Weeds in the Garden

I have been thinking about weeding, and what it has taught me. It is this. If I am ambivalent on where to act, what I don’t want is what will frequently win out. Weeding the unnecessary, the unneeded or uninspiring from my life is one of the best ways for me to get what I do want. So much attention is spent these days in telling people to envision their goals. Without doubt that is critical. But the art of removal is also important.

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The Being of Happy

A friend and I were recently talking about her new boyfriend. It is a new relationship, filled with promise. They seem a good match, both are active, interesting and interested in varied things. He is teaching her to fly a plane, she introducing him to the world of roller-derby. He asked her, “Do you think I’m a happy person?” “I think” she quietly answered, “You take what comes your way and turn it into joy.”

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Negative Space

We must remember that new ideas, approaches, and perspectives are always there. The secret is to constantly challenge yourself to see the unseen, the unknown on a daily basis. The gift of change is that it shakes up our current view of the world, better allowing us to see any negative space that exists. When we can do that then we can embrace the unknown.

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The Ice Storm

It has been a long winter in New Hampshire. The weather has been tough, the days cold, and even now, in mid-April, the mornings are 30 degrees. This makes for a weariness of spirit that is palpable on many people's faces. Last December we also had an ice storm, which left my town without power for ten days. During the darkest time of the year, that's ten days with no heat, electricity, hot water or light. It was a difficult struggle.

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Kilimanjaro

In January, I found myself in Tanzania. I was attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and seventh tallest in the world. It's summit is over 23,000 feet. Most climbing stories are filled with conquest, or at least heroic survival in the face of difficult odds. This is not one of them.

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The Outer Work

The theologian Meister Eckart said, “The outer work will never be great if the inner work is small.” In this change of season are you doing anything that has you as a beginner? What new opportunities await that will smooth the rough edges off your ego, by putting you in a place of discomfort and newness?

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LeadershipDavid Baum
To Act Without Knowing

We never know, do we, what a small and passionate act will set in motion? It may take years, decades in fact, to become reality. Great dreams can rarely be judged in the moment. The changes that occur, especially those of large injustice, often take significant time to be felt. Many times this change can happen without us even being aware. Yet this begs a very important question; are you willing to act, even if your work never knowingly makes a difference?

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The Choice of Conflict

Consider for a moment all the struggles you have in your life that revolve around problematic relationships. How many of these struggles are long term and rarely seem to break through. You can fight the issues, consistently be disappointed, and find yourself forever frustrated. But if it is in their nature, that is, if what you want changed is not who the other person actually is, you are more likely to find yourself in a pattern of conflict retread than anything else.

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NatureDavid Baum
The Hard Ask

The poet Rumi says, "You must ask for what you truly want." All great coaches basically offer the same advice. First, be crystal clear about your needs and the more specific the better. Step two, as simple as it sounds, ask! So much in our lives goes unstated, with assumptions that either the other should know or we don’t deserve what we want. It is not anyone else’s business to take care of your needs. That is your job.

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In Praise of Flip Flopping

In my experience, great leaders continually reassess situations and only the very foolish or fundamentally flawed will hold a position long after wisdom or judgment informs otherwise. The ability to learn from our mistakes, admit error and change course is the first thing you teach MBA students or even your own child as a key to success.

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LeadershipDavid Baum
Alignment

What does alignment mean? Think of a car going down a highway. If all four tires are aligned and you take your hands off the steering wheel, your car will still go in the direction it is headed. But if one of the tires is out of alignment the car will shake and begin to drift. If two are out of line you'll end up in a ditch. Alignment is about critical mass. Using this analogy, the less tires you have, the more critical that the mass be aligned.

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CoachingDavid Baum
Obama's Unteachable Quality

I am moved by Barack Obama's courage. I am compelled by his vision. But mostly it is his presence, attentiveness and curiosity to my life when he didn’t need to be, that stirred me the most. He is the rarest of leaders; someone I follow because of a simple but unteachable quality. He is present.

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Staying Hopeful in Hard Times

When things are going poorly, remember that everything is temporary. Know that whatever is heavy on your soul will eventually pass. Times will change. They always do. The issue will eventually get better. So trust that whatever challenges you face today, will not be so important tomorrow. But when things are going well, and our life is sweet, we need to stay in the present and appreciate the moment. The good times also don’t last forever either.

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Surprise and Delight

I am left today thinking about the importance in our lives of surprise and delight. How so much of it comes from a heartfelt showing of love, without a need for reciprocation or even ownership. In the end, even the smallest gesture can create an opening, a moment of grace. And after, everything is different.

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The Four Rules to a Simple Life

The psychiatrist Scott Peck wrote, "The paradox of life is that we are all trapped inside of a box, and the instructions on how to get out of the box are written on the outside of the box." Life can be a complicated process and figuring out a way through is often tough and confusing. Here then are a set of instructions for getting out of the box, based on Angeles Arrien’s research, and different religious models.

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CoachingDavid Baum
Rwanda and Forgiveness

Rwanda feels more committed to forgiveness than they are to justice. The modern root of forgiveness means, "to give up the power to punish". Conversely justice is often so much about revenge. The Latin root of the word is justia, meaning “righteousness” or “vindication through assigning punishment.” Say, “I want justice”. Notice the energy of your statement and where your attention goes. Now say, “I want forgiveness.” Do they feel different?

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Stepping Back From Polarization

In matters of substantial difference, don't question people's intentions, question their judgment. If your goal is to minimize the amount of polarization that exists in our culture, carefully watch your language. Questioning intention is often seen as an attack on integrity, and while you may feel passionately about your point of view, everyone feels that their intentions are good. No matter what.

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LeadershipDavid Baum
The Inevitability of Consensus

A lot of my time in 2007 was engaged in managing a national dialogue on the death penalty. The goal was to create an agreed upon strategy, state-by-state and nation-wide, to abolish executions in the United States by 2025. Creating an “inevitability of consensus” in any environment is a complex undertaking. Here then are a few things I learned along the way.

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CoachingDavid Baum