Environmental problems

I’ve wrote other posts about China’s environmental problems after reading various articles but this one in The New York Times Review section takes the cake. According to Sheng Keyi, a former resident of Huaihua, a village on the Lanxi River in Hunan Procince, the river is dead, destroyed by pollution from factories and animal waste. Cancer rates are enormous and citizens continue to drink unsafe, toxic water because they have no choice while the privileged send their children abroad or consume clean water through networks that serve the wealthy.

The author notes that more than 50 percent of China’s rivers have disappeared altogether, cancer rates are up 80 percent in the last 30 years, and nearly 200 million mostly poor people continue to drink unsafe water. He writes, “the illness does not just affect my village and my river. The entire country is sick. In our society, profit and gross domestic product count more than anything else.”

If more people could regulate themselves, we wouldn’t need government regulation that so many people in our country hate. In China, where business and political corruption is rampant, regulation is clearly not enough. I have a buddy who lives in Beijing and came home for Christmas with severe respiratory issues, a result of intense air pollution there.

Please stop the madness.

Important leadership skills

Kim Bowers, C.E.O. of CST Brands, a gas-station and convenience-store retailer, doesn’t trust managers who manage up really well but not down. In other words, it’s fundamentally important that your team will go to bat for you what she refers to as “walking over hot coals for you.” Creating that loyalty and bonding with your people is an indispensable leadership skill!

Ms. Bowers’ perspective on career management is very interesting as well. She says, “Throw it out the window. It’s not going to happen that way. If you work really hard, opportunities will come along, and success will follow.” I agree that working hard is important, staying open, and looking for ways to expand your skill sets and abilities is fantastic. However, some people might want to cultivate mentoring and guidance because they don’t always see the opportunities when they come or have the courage to take the risk. Also, I find that a fair amount of younger people today aren’t patient enough to work hard and pay their dues. On the other hand, when I guide someone who finds them-self in an environment where hard work leads to frustration, change might be necessary sooner no matter what it looks like from the outside.

I teach fluidity which means cultivating awareness of the circumstances and creating the courage to take action to change unhappy situations. Fluid people are less attached in general to certain outcomes which is another way of saying what Ms. bowers is suggesting that ultimately you can’t really control your career. But what you can do is work hard, stay open, and seize opportunities as they come!

Take action and practice living with courage!

Tom Erickson, C.E.O of Acquia, an open-source softwear company, addresses the value of accepting failure on an emotional level in this Corner Office interview. He states, “I’m looking for people who are going to jump in and own their own work, who are going to risk something and risk failing.”

I love it!! When people ask me what I do for a living I have many different responses depending on my mood and the person asking the question. The traditional response is that I have a doctorate in psychology and do a hybrid of business coaching, life coaching, and sports psychology. I do all that but what I really do is help people face their fears, embrace change, become more fluid, flexible and creative and ultimately live with more courage! This is what Mr. Erickson is taking about too. How does one do that, you might ask? By practicing living and expressing your truth each and every day until it becomes the core of who you are! Only you know what your truth is and what you are avoiding. Coaching and guidance is helpful but at the end of the day, you must take action and practice living with courage!!

Parents should limit adolescent exposure to porn

I just read a rather large article on the cover the Sunday New York Times Review section about pornography and adolescents that basically summarized multiple studies as inconclusive at best. I have a first hand perspective having seen the effects of premature exposure to porn first hand in clinical practice with sex addiction. Pornography is addictive and harmful, especially to adolescents and young adults. I say this because I have listened to countless stories of desensitization and trouble with intimacy. Desensitization basically means that normal, healthy sex is boring and sometimes nearly impossible for people whose neurology has changed as a result of overexposure to porn. Watching more and more porn leads some people to view harder, stranger, and rougher material as their dopamine system seeks greater stimulation.

As a Dutch study does suggest, “when teens watch porn they tend to be more dissatisfied with their sexual lives. This effect is not really a strong effect though. And teens with more sexual experience didn’t show this effect at all.” In my experience, this effect is strong in some, especially those prone to addiction. And it’s harder to study this effect in the U.S because Universities are loath to sanction studies with dubious ethics and also because we tend to be less liberal around teenage sexuality creating a propensity to study if pornography causes kids to have sex earlier as opposed to the quality of their relationship experiences.

Parents: please limit adolescent exposure to porn if at all possible. I strongly agree with researchers arguments to talk about sex, sexuality, and porn with your children. The more comfortable you are as an adult around sex and sexuality, the easier it will be for your children to navigate these increasingly challenging waters in the 21st century!

Trust is a major factor in how people work together

Don Knauss, the C.E.O. Of the Clorox Company is a former Marine and athlete who makes tons of sense. He believes in motivating others by creating trust through exercising power cautiously and caring about his people to such an extent that they are primary – what he refers to as the heart piece. Like myself, he agrees that intelligence is important too but without heart over time it’s hard to retain great people. He too looks for passion over pedigree and believes in the necessity of becoming an excellent communicator. I really enjoyed his perspective because it reminded me of so much that I offer and teach others; especially the importance of hammering away at the fundamentals: my core teaching is to avoid nothing, be as present as possible, have bang-up integrity, honor yourself, and learn to develop and trust your intuition!

Thank you Mr. Bryant for your outstanding interviews and Mr. Knauss for sharing your perspective!

Live a healthy, successful life!

I am a huge Gabriel Cousens fan. An M.D (psychiatrist), accomplished author, homeopath, and deeply spiritual being (enlightened), he exemplifies creativity, knowledge, grace, and contribution. His Tree of Life Foundation in Arizona offers all kinds of experiences and knowledge on nutrition, meditation, spirituality as well as a host of other important perspectives on living a healthy, successful life! His books science, spirit, and nutrition are profound. When I read his book Spiritual Nutrition several years ago after going through a devastating health crisis that cost me my health, my business, my self-esteem, my relationship and much more, I finally realized what had happened to me. Dr. Cousens is a true genius! In his words,”I am at peace in my body, mind, family, community, ecology, and with God.” Thank you Dr. Cousens!

The Beauty of Traveling

I just spent the last two days at Squaw Valley doing a travel writing gig. Before I left, the PR director for the resort took me out to lunch at High Camp, a restaurant far up the mountain. Not only were the views spectacular but the conversation was refreshingly deep. The young woman grew up in Newport, RI and attended several prestigious private schools. Now she lives in the heart of the Sierra Nevada’s enjoying an outdoor culture based largely on lifestyle and happiness far removed from the rat race. She told me that she finds travelers to be the most interesting people to meet and converse with because they tend to be more open minded and aware having experienced so many different people and cultures. Her parents, who lived conventional lives, don’t always understand her or how she lives more in the moment. They planned and saved and did what they were supposed to do. Nothing wrong with that she says but they can’t really guide her as she feels parents should. I told her that I teach people through a combination of meditation and mindfulness to develop their own internal guidance system so that they are less influenced by others who may not truly understand them. Instead we learn to go inward for answers and trust our intuition. After all, it is simply the best way to live!

The value of Communication

Adam Bryant interviews Jeff Lawson, the C.E.O of Twilio, a cloud communications company based in San Francisco in this week’s Corner Office section of the Sunday New York Times business section. An entrepreneur since age 12 when he started a video production business, Mr. Lawson discusses the value of communication and resolving conflict something his crew rarely did in his next enterprise, a dot.com company.

As both a psychologist and business coach , I teach communication at a very high level. My argument to business people is that whatever you learn and practice in your business life can be applied to your personal life and vice versa. Becoming proactive and engaged and learning to address issues head on instead of avoid them is absolutely important in every area of your life and will eventually help you become a much better parent too!

Communication skills, much like many other things in life, improve with patience, practice, and perseverance. If you want to become a better communicator, practice bringing things up. Over time, you will become more discerning and tactful. Remember: the more you practice, the better you get!

Live authentically

The cover article for the Sports Sunday section of this weekend’s New York Times features excerpts from ‘Cycle of Lies’ Juliet Macur’s new book on Lance Armstrong. Reading this story reminds me of several conversations I had with a professional riding coach when I lived in New Mexico in 1997. It was obvious then that the culture of professional cycling was so corrupt that Lance had to be cheating. I used to share that belief with others well before it became obvious to the world. The challenge for all of us who try to live with high integrity is what to do when everyone around you is cheating? For a competitive cyclist to succeed then you simply had to cheat. If you didn’t, someone else would and that would put you at a significant disadvantage not just in terms of winning but around fame, fortune, and your ability to make a living at the sport you loved.

It seems that until we live in a world that is more evolved, we need regulatory bodies to make sure some athletes, businesspeople or citizens don’t have an unfair advantage over others. Of course, the cheaters often evolve faster than the overseers and the race to find better and more sophisticated ways to cheat such as undetectable drugs, computer viruses, fake currencies, and other scams continues. The good news is that the world seems to becoming more and more transparent, a positive byproduct of new technology. The challenge in our fast changing paced modern culture is to live authentically which sometimes means passing on questionable opportunities that others will agree too. Given Lance’s competitiveness, ruthless desire to win, and fundamental insecurity, his choices was obvious. What’s yours?

Communication builds loyalty and trust

I just came across a Corner Office interview when I was cleaning my house yesterday after my girlfriend took one of our dogs and left for the LA area where we intend to set up shop eventually! Apparently, I had saved the Sunday Business section from the first week of January and didn’t read it till today. Karen Abramson, the C.E.O. of Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting, learned from her father, a business manager and owner, that if you have the skills to successfully run one business, you can use those same skills to run just about any business! I agree in general. A leader who is present, focused, clear, determined, and loyal can create success wherever they go.

Ms. Abramson also discussed the importance of having clear expectations because as she states, “even though you think things may be intuitive, people don’t always understand what you’re doing and thinking.” I agree with this statement as well. In guiding individuals, whether or not they are athletes, entrepreneurs or housewives, clear and transparent communication builds loyalty and trust and eliminates most misunderstandings and dramas. Learning to become a better communicator is important no matter who you are! My advice: hire a coach or mentor to help you communicate better . It’s a no – brainer!