Happy Hanukkah!

The Eleven, December 2012

It’s December 11th, 2012, and time for another edition of The Eleven, my monthly newsletter where I share my thinking with you. As the year winds down I’m reflecting back on what an incredible year it has been.  If you’re not familiar with my writing, please visit my website at https://albertideation.com and check out a few of the articles. My most popular ones have probably been on how to make parties go better for everyone, my thoughts on cellphones, and opening our minds to feedback.

Most recently I’ve been pleased with my Facebook and email marketing classes. These gatherings have given me a chance to share what I’ve learned over the past couple of years with small business people who sincerely appreciate what I’m sharing. I watch as people take the information and run with it – adding people to their email lists; adding fans to their fan pages; and taking steps to put their important messages out into the world. Lately, I’ve been having a lot of repeat customers and referrals and I’m grateful for those of you who are sending your friends my way. I’m also being asked by the folks at Constant Contact to become part of their Authorized Local Experts team which means I’ll be putting on workshops for them soon. I like to teach and I love showing people how to promote their work – so this is a great fit for me.
Also in the paid realm, I’ve had a chance to work with the Boombox Network – an organization that helps their clients reach baby boomers. I wrote an article called Speaking up about Hearing Loss. I learned a lot about hearing loss and my article talks about my history with sound and some helpful links for people who might be facing hearing loss. My previous article was on Cranium Crunches – tools to help with one’s memory. These have been my first paid writing assignments in decades.
Personally, I’ve been finding myself drawn back once again into the supportive fold of the RC (Re-evaluation Counseling) community. I’m part of a few support groups (Jewish, Men’s) and an on-going class. I’ve been using co-counseling for over 20 years to help me keep my thinking sharp. It works and I’m so lucky there is a strong community of co-counselors in Portland.
Eecole is finishing up a massage degree – she takes her practical test in Salem on Wednesday. When she passes she’ll be a licensed massage therapist and a nutritionist – world, watch out!
And then there’s the election. I’m still feeling pleased that the direction of the country seems to be more progressive than it was previously. I believe the only chance we have to continue to exist on the planet (along with any remaining non-human species) is if we make some tough choices in the next few years. Choices around the size of the human population are bound to arise as we continue to put more carbon than ever into the atmosphere. Whether we stop the shipping of coal from Montana and Wyoming through the Pacific Northwest on its way to China is also up there in importance. I’m reconsidering all of the time I put into things like trying to end the distribution of phonebooks, my sunflower project, and even the tree plantings that I help organize as they pale in comparison with the scope of the problem that burning coal presents.
Yep, that’s what I look like these days! I’m on a kick to lose some weight and lower my cholesterol – so far, it’s working 🙂  I’ve purchased an urban rebounder (one of those mini trampolines) and I’m bouncing on it every day while I watch inspiring TED Talks sent to me by friends. I welcome your submissions! My main New Year’s resolution for 2013 is to be outside more – so, if you ever want to take a walk or do other exercises together outside (The Birthday Garden is a great place to work up a sweat): walking, biking, throwing a frisbee, please let me know.
Support: I have a lot of interesting projects going on at all times, and I know others who do. I’m pretty well-connected and love to network – try me 🙂  If you have any extra time or an inclination to support what I do in the world, please get in touch. I’d love to be collaborating more and having a bigger impact.
Happy Hannukah – even if you’re not Jewish I encourage you to take a moment and light some candles. It’s dark out there and the candles will soothe you and make you smile.
                         May there be peace in the world
Have a great Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Years’, and Merry Megglemoose!
Albert Kaufman
PS – I love sending and receiving mail. If you’d like a holiday card, please respond with your postal address.

Opening Our Minds to Feedback!

Ready for Opening?

We all hear various types of input about ourselves all day long and all our lives long.  It comes in various forms: criticism, compliments, advice, warnings, kidding, hints, etc.  And, many of us give these out like party favors to our friends and family. I finally realized something earlier this Summer when I tried to get my Relative 1 to wear some new shoes.  I had suggested in a variety of ways that his life would improve if he changed his shoes.  I sent him websites, I told him why I like my shoes and how they make walking more enjoyable, etc.  Nada.  I have run into the same response as I’ve tried to encourage my Relative 2 to feed her kids differently – a big NO sign has been written in the sky as in “don’t tell me how to feed my kids, I got it”.  I’m dating one of the best nutritionists in the world and over the course of years, I’ve learned more about food and diet than I did in my previous decades of life.  But trying to encourage my relatives to change their behaviors has been unsuccessful, to say the least.  So, I had a realization that if a person is not ready to hear feedback in some form, they’re not going to be able to take the information in – whether it’s useful or not, a big wall goes up, and the information is batted back like a baseball sent into the bleachers!

So, the idea I want to share with you is this. Rather than have this experience, how do we all open our minds to be able to hear what is useful that is coming our way?  Rather than deflect, how do we open up our receptors wider when compliments, criticism, feedback of some sort is coming towards us?  Because sometimes there are hidden gems in the dust.  Anytime someone tries to tell us something about ourselves it should be looked at as a gift.  And, interestingly, we often have trouble receiving physical gifts, as well.  My 14 years of attending Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert, and participating in the gifting economy there have taught me a lot about how to give and receive gifts with grace.  And, perhaps there’s a tie-in there, I’m not sure yet.

It seems to me that what’s key here is teaching one another and practicing how to open our minds and our awareness to the messages we’re receiving.  Opening up and letting in.  Breathing in the message, taking it in.  And before we can hear that we need to be doing something differently (ex: our toenails need clipping) we have to have our minds open to feedback in general.

So, I want to work with people at this meta-level of receiving information easily.  Does this practice sound like something you’ve heard of before?  Is there already a theory out there that’s been developed that sounds like this?  I’m asking because if not it seems like something that we’d all do well to learn and learn quickly.  And, if there is something out there like this (and thanks to Susan Cerf for sharing her version of this with me, and the article which I’m encouraging her to write…) I’d love to know more about it.

Some have suggested to me that instead of saying “no” to a person’s feedback we can ask “why?”.  And, instead of me telling you that your shoes need tying, I might ask you “are your untied shoes causing a problem for you?”  And, that’s possibly a short-term solution.  But our ability to open our minds to every type of message that’s coming towards us and figuring out what’s useful and integrating it seems key to me.

Thanks for listening, and I’m ready for your feedback.

11.11.11 – I added a continuation to this idea to my e-letter, The Eleven.  Further comments welcome.

I’ve been thinking a lot about community lately.  Partly because I live in a very rich community environment (many of us refer to it as the Portland bubble) which benefits me greatly, and partly because of how the world is turning these days, I thought I’d share some lessons learned along the way regarding community building.

I think one aspect of the community that’s important to its success is communication. The ability of community members (you and me) to be able to hear feedback, accept/hear what’s useful in the information, and act/move on it is key. The better we get at giving and receiving feedback to one another the better our relationships will be and the faster we’ll mature. To me, feedback shows that someone cares about someone else. Our society does not really do feedback very well – and because of that, we all generally don’t take to it very well.  In the article above I wrote a while back, I wrote about how we need to get better at opening our minds.  I think it’s worth a read. (the comments are also very good)

Since then I’ve had some further thoughts about feedback. Here’s a way to handle feedback that gets your hackles up – to be able to more easily parse what’s useful and what’s not within the information.  Imagine that when you give a person feedback (positive or negative) that you are speaking to the 20 million other people who do things that way. That’s a way for both the giver and receiver to depersonalize the experience so that the triggering of old hurts does not automatically happen.

example: passenger says to driver: “you’re following the car in front of you too closely, please slow down you’re making me uncomfortable”. 

So, the driver, in this case, is like 20 million other drivers who do this thus making 20 million passengers uncomfortable. That said, the driver can either decide to acknowledge the issue, ignore it, or tease out what they feel is useful without taking the criticism of their driving personally. And it goes the other way, too.

When you are the recipient of feedback, imagine that you are one of 20 million people hearing it.

Example: Someone compliments your work on a particular issue. Well, they’re complimenting 20 million people who’ve decided to take actions on that or some other issue – you’re in good company.

How does this help build community? Well, it’s one facet in our getting better and better at getting in close with each other and helping one another mature!  And, according to a good friend and amazing therapist, much of her work is about helping people mature because “when they’ve matured, they no longer need therapy”.

So, here’s to improving our communication skills and learning to give and receive feedback well. Of course, this is just one area in the communication area and is just one part of building strong communities. These topics are a lot of what I write about, so, stick around and perhaps something will appeal to you enough to try it out.  Let me know how it goes!

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9.29.19 – Perhaps asking for Advice is more useful 🙂

1.14.2020 – Feel free to comment below. Thanks!

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