Everyday Alchemy: Discover the Extraordinary in Every Moment

Alchemy:(n.) The power or process of transforming something common into something extraordinary. Hi! I'm Sarah Robinson, Business Coach and Resident Alchemist. Welcome to my Blog. My mission is to bring the powerful magic of Everyday Alchemy into the daily lives of Life Adventurers everywhere (especially those with an entrepenurial bent!). Let me know how this resonates with you-I am fascinated! Email me: sarah@everydayalchemy.com. Visit my website at http://www.everydayalchemy.com/

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Anatomy of an Apology

No one ever taught me how to apologize. I know that sounds silly, but it is a skill that does not come easily to me. For a long time I thought mumbling "sorry" under my breath was as good an apology as anyone could expect from me. And, I only did that under extreme duress.

These days when accepting responsibility for the harm we do others is not exactly in vogue (witness Enron among others), making a heart-felt apology can feel alot like leaving yourself open to a shark attack. What I now know, though, is that mastering this skill is one of the single greatest things I can do to foster the growth of my own integrity. It also lays the foundation for healing and for magic in any relationship. Apologizing is good for me and I can get better at it with practice.

So, how do we make a sincere apology? I learned these four steps:

1. Own what you did.
"I'm sorry I yelled at you."

2. Acknowledge it's likely impact.
"You probably feel pretty hurt by what I did."

3. State what you intend to do next time to keep from repeating your mistake.
"Next time I feel angry enough to yell, I will take a walk around the block instead."

4. Ask for forgiveness.
"Will you forgive me?"


Here's the tricky part of that last step. We must be prepared to live with a yes or no answer. Though we hope to be forgiven, we are the ones who screwed up and we can't force the other person to respond a certain way. If we go into an apology expecting a certain outcome, we are not apologizing-we are manipulating.

The best part about apologizing is that, even though I am scared to death while I am doing it, I feel so much lighter after I've done it. I may still wish I hadn't screwed up in the first place, but cleaning up a mess I made is the next best thing. It's all about taking responsibility for myself.

So, think of someone you've harmed. Write out your apology based on the above four steps. Muster your courage and make your apology. Let me know how it goes-I am intensely interested!

Have a magical day!

Sarah

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Integrity: A Key to Everyday Alchemy

Lately I have become fascinated with the whole topic of integrity. Living with integrity in my relationships with others and in my relationship myself. If the idea of integrity is new to you, the following article and quiz will give you tons of insight. I'm thinking of adding Integrity to the Essential Elements of Everyday Alchemy-I believe it is that important in our daily lives.

Have a Magical Day!
Sarah


Integrity at Work: How are you showing up?

As the business sections of today's papers and magazines read more and more like the police blotter, "integrity" is fast becoming a hot topic of conversation in business boardrooms, around water coolers, and in today's business best-sellers. Integrity is defined as walking the talk when it comes to living one's core values, e.g., honesty, sincerity, self-responsibility, trust, respect, etc., and when it comes to being authentic.



Integrity is a lot like being pregnant. In other words, either you are pregnant, or you aren't. There's no middle ground. It's the same with integrity.



At work, integrity is not a robe that one can put on and take off when it's convenient. However, workplace behaviors more often than not seem to indicate convenience does lay a large part in whether people show up in integrity or not. Who people are at work, and how people are at work, seems to change like the weather, the weather of convenience.



When asked, many folks say they believe they are, in fact, always acting in integrity. However, when we look at actual day-to-day, minute-by-minute workplace behaviors this is clearly not the case. Why? One reason is folks' basic needs for control, recognition and security.



Because most people are driven by their egos and their ego needs for control, recognition and security, they often move away from their true and authentic self, from their deeper inner values, and behave in ways that are contrary to do-ing and be-ing in integrity.



So, do you think, feel and believe you live your core values at work, that you show up in integrity in your workplace? Take this self-assessment and explore who you are and how you are at work when it comes to integrity.



1. On an integrity scale of 1(low) to 10(high), how would you rate yourself with it comes to the following workplace behaviors:

(a) gossiping; (b) bullying; (c) viewing or downloading porn; (d) stealing physical materials; (e) stealing intellectual capital; (f) stealing time; (g) telling the truth; (h) taking responsibility for your piece of your team's projects; (i) making excuses; (j) being direct, open and honest in your communications; (k) respecting others?



2. Who or what usually takes you out of integrity?



3. When you're out of integrity, what kind of self-talk do you engage in?



4. When do your needs for control, recognition and security take you out of integrity?



5. Do you ever lie to yourself about being in integrity? If so, why?



6. Does it matter to you that you are sometimes out of integrity?



7. Do you use the same definition of integrity for yourself and for others? If not, why not?



8. Do you respond if others act out of integrity and their actions directly affect you?



9. Do you respond if others act out of integrity and their actions affect your team, your unit, your department or your organization?



10. Do you ever excuse or rationalize your being out of integrity? If so, when and why?



At the end of the day, integrity is all about telling the truth about ourselves, to ourselves. It's all about living this truth.



Many of us are quick to judge and criticize others who act out of integrity. But truth be told, many of us are just as prone to separate from our core values and act out of integrity when it's convenient in some way.



So, some food for thought questions are:



How did you do with your self-assessment?

Who are you and how are you when it comes to showing up at work in integrity?

What did you learn about yourself, if anything, from this inquiry?

How does this experience leave you feeling?



Peace,

Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D.




Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D, is co-founder of SpiritHeart, an Atlanta, GA firm specializing in coaching, counseling and facilitating. 770-804-9125, pvajda@spiritheart.net

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

This is from one of my very favorite websites called Tut. I've signed up to get messages from the universe. You can to by visiting here: www.tut.com
I'm often asked, Sarah, you know, being the Universe and all, "What's the purpose of life?" But truthfully, no matter who or what you are that's a pretty daunting question. So daunting, I'm invariably compelled to reply with a few questions of my own:

"Do you mean besides having fun? Besides learning that the world has always spun in the palm of your hand? Besides bicycles, long walks and hot chocolate? Besides holding hands, giving hugs and drying tears? Besides having a dream and making it come true? Besides June, Mondays and Polar Bears? Besides witnessing miracles that only you are privy to? Besides sunrises, sunsets, and every rare and fleeting moment in between?"

Daunting is an understatement.

The Universe


Tut always reminds me that Today Can Be Magical!

Have a Magical Day!
Sarah

Monday, June 20, 2005

Instant Alchemy

This weekend I learned an amazing tool for creating instant alchemy in any relationship-I'd like to share it with you. Before I do, let me say that it is extremely simple (not to be confused with easy!) to read and process intellectually. However, doing it takes real courage and focus. Most importantly, it must come from the heart. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Here we go:
Pick a relationship that you want to transform-your child, your mother, your pain in the neck co-worker. Find a reason to engage them in conversation. Now-here is where the magic happens-when the other person is speaking, focus all of your attention on what he or she is saying. Listen with all of your concentration. See them while they are talking. You don't have to lock eyes or anything, just make eye contact while they are speaking. Don't start thinking about what you are going to say or let your mind drift. Just listen. Let the words that are being said affect you. In other words, be present with them-be intensely interested in them. Make the conversation about them-not about you and your needs. When it is your turn to speak, connect your words to the other person. Look at them when you speak. See their reaction to your words.

That's it. Ready to give it a try? This will be a brand new approach for most people, so I recommend applying it to one relationship at a time. Pick the one that matters most. Once you've practiced a few times with the same person, then try it with another. Prepare to be transformed!

Have a Magical Day!

Sarah

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

"...when you want something, all the universe conspires to helping you achieve it."
~The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Recommended Reading

This is a list of books and magazines that will guide anyone on the quest for Everyday Alchemy. If you have suggestions to add to the list, please let me know! If you click on the title you will go straight to amazon.com. I recommend buying used copies of any book-they're cheaper and the words are the same!

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
This is shortest life changing parable I've ever read. If you want to get to the heart of creating alchemy in your own life, this is a must read.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
It's a controversial choice I know. While some of 12 page monologues are tough to slog through and her worship of man is a little over the top at times, Ayn Rand's book promises to make you think about your personal obligation to yourself and the kind of world you want to create.

Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck
Martha Beck changed my life in many ways. I've read a lot of so-called self-help books in my life and this is the only one that resonates with me on every single page. I was lucky enough to be chosen by Martha for her Life Coach training program. You can also read Martha's monthly column in Oprah Magazine at oprah.com.

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
If you want a self-guided path to more alchemy and creativity in your daily life, this is the book for you. I'll warn you now, if you read it, your view of life will be forever changed.

The Power of Focus by Jack Canfield
My ability to choose priorities and set goals received a huge boost from Mr. Canfield (of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame). Mental acuity is the name of the game for this book.

It's Only Too Late If You Don't Start Now by Barbara Sher
Actually anything by Barbara Sher is well-worth the read. She's like a fairy godmother who knows how hard it is the muster the energy and courage to take a step toward your dream. She is a supreme strategist in designing and executing a plan to get you into the life of your dreams.

Boundary Power by Mike O'Neil
If you are struggling with Essential Element #1, this workbook will really help. Learning where you stop and others start (i.e. boundaries) is the foundation for creating Everyday Alchemy in your life.

Unplug The Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson
All I can say is this book has transformed Christmas from a holiday I dreaded into a season that holds all the wonder and joy I can imagine.

Money and the Meaning of Life by Jacob Needleman
What are you trading your daily life for? Is it worth it? This book will help you find out.

Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
The name says it all.

Worthwhile Magazine
This is my new favorite magazine (well, next to Oprah!). It's all about creating meaning in our work-and making money at the same time. If that's not Everyday Alchemy, I don't know what is!

Fast Company Magazine
No matter what other people say, I still think this magazine's got it going on. It's like reading a monthly magazine about people who are creating Everyday Alchemy in the workplace.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Essential Element # 1: Accept Responsibility, or Not.

Accepting responsibility is a tough gig for two reasons 1) Our culture practically insists that whatever is wrong in our lives must be someone else's fault and 2) There are lots of people, places and things in our lives that we think we are responsible for (some even insist that we are responsible for) that we are actually not. It's a Catch-22 in a way. So, the challenge is discerning the difference. We are responsible for our own lives-no matter what has happened to us in the past, no matter how bad our current situation-we are responsible for where we are now and where we want to go. We are not responsible for other people's lives-our ex-spouse's bad mood, our grown child's inability to keep a job, our boss's napolean complex. When we give up responsibility for them, we give up trying to control them. This means we stop behaving in a way that attempts to manipulate them into responding the way we want them to. I am in the midst of writing a mini e-course on this whole idea. What would be helpful to include that makes discerning the difference between Accepting Responsibility, or Not clearer?

Have a Magical Day!
Sarah

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Ten Essential Elements of Everyday Alchemy

These Essential Elements are gleaned from my 20 year personal and spiritual journey. If they resonate with you, please let me know. I'd love to talk about them!

1. Accept Responsibility, or Not.
2. Define and Defend Your Integrity
3. Check Your Assumptions.
4. Consider Your Choices.
5. Pay Attention.
6. Get Into Gratitude.
7. Secure Your Spiritual Core.
8. Play to Your Strengths.
9. Seek Wise Counsel.
10. Protect Your Priorities

Have a magical day!
Sarah