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New England Stone Walll

This morning, I was riding the bus and a couple got on and was speaking very loudly so that everyone else could hear about their issues with a gutter drain (it’s been raining a lot in the Boston area lately). I was noticing that I was getting annoyed as I really couldn’t get away from their conversation. Trying to be the on-the-way-to-enlightenment kind of guy I aspire to, I asked myself why was this so triggering for me. What came up for me was that I felt like my personal space wasn’t being respected.

I’ve also recently run into a number of people who have moved to the Boston area and have mentioned about how difficult it is to meet people here. I know that we New Englanders have a reputation for being cold and unfriendly (which I never understood. I’m very friendly and I have more friends than I can keep up with). When people ask me how I know do many people, I always mention it’s from all the activities that I’m involved in (church, dancing groups, etc.) I have something in common with these people that we share, and that’s how I get to know people.

I’ve also noticed that people from “away” seen to think that just because someone is in close proximity to you, that you should get to know them. I can identify a number of people that I see quite often in my daily life, but I’ve got no reason to talk with them other than they are physically close to me. It would be really awkward for me to just go up and strike up a conversation with nothing in particular to talk about (and this is from an extrovert’s extrovert!)

While this might be appropriate in other parts, for us New Englanders it’s an intrution that goes against our “good fences make good neighbors” ethic. Call it shy, call it proper, but that’s the way we are. Demonstrate that we’ve got something else in common and we’ll talk for days.

So, what does this have to do with networking? Everything.

When you are trying to network to find out information, if you just go up to someone randomly, they might feel confronted and uncomfortable. Can you demonstrate that you’ve got something on common? Can you respect their privacy and borders by not asking too much? Can you demonstrate that it would be a benefit for me to keep the conversation going with you? If you’re approaching me yet making me work to build the connection, I’m not going to think it’s worth the effort.

So, how do you connect with people? Leave your thoughts below.

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Today, I am the guest speaker for the GTD (Getting Things Done) Virtual Study Group Teleworkshop, which will then be podcast in a few days.  In preparation for this, I’ve been having a spirited discussion on line with a number of participants in this group, and the theme that is coming up a lot is how do you clarify your vision when you are so bogged down with the details of life?

The short answer is what you would do for anything where you cannot seem to do it yourself, but want the results.  Can’t fix your toilet?  Never seem to get your diet in order? Thinking about designing a house but don’t know where to start?  What would you do in those cases?

Most likely engage a professional to help you out.

That’s what I do all the time.  I work with clients to get them out of their earlier thought patterns, give them a different perspective, and structure actions to help move things forward.  For something as important as your life, don’t you think you’re worth the investment.

To give you a taste of what I do with that, you can see the outline for my talk today, and additionally a set of exercises that I use with individuals to help them clarify where they want to go. It’s part of my “what am I going to be when I grow up” work.  You can probably get value out of the exercises themselves, but I’d be more than happy to work with you individually.  You can check out my website for information on how I work with individuals.  As I do telephone and Skype appointments, I can work with people all over the world.

Please leave a comment here about the podcast or the call.  I’d love to hear what you got out of it.

Happy First Full Day of Spring!  My body and spirit needed the 75 degree weather we had this weekend here in the Northeast.  I can just feel like it’s the start of a whole bunch of new things, at least for me!

I’m on my way now on the Bolt Bus from New York City to Boston (As a side note, why do they bother going up I-95 instead of I-87 and then through Danbury to get to Boston?  Every time we go I-95, we get caught in a traffic jam.  Start thinking, Bolt!)  I spent the weekend with a friend where I got to walk around the city, see new things, and also take in a great Broadway show (All About Me with Dame Edna Everage and Michael Feinstein.)  I never would have thought of that combination, but it was quite fun.  I had never really heard Michael sing before, and I was quite impressed. I’m going to have to get some of his music off of iTunes now.

Anyway, one thing that I noticed about Manhattan is that you are constantly being bombarded with input. On the street, hawkers for everything from tours, artwork, watches, and Broadway shows are constantly approaching you to sell you something.  You can tell why New Yorkers have a reputation about being a little cold (which, by the way, I find completely untrue), because they need to shield themselves from all this input so that they can function.  If you are constantly having to process input all the time, you can never actually accomplish anything.  That’s also the reason that we all go on vacation so that we can get away from our inputs.

Whereas New Yorkers have been dealing with this for decades, I think that most people in the rest of the world that’s less populated are just now trying to figure out how to do this.  We all have more inputs that we had before.  We get phone calls, pop up windows, spam email, request to repost message, etc.  All these things are of various levels of importance (to us individually or the world in general), yet they appear to have the same level of importance to our brains as they come in.

We’ve become a culture of short-attention span individuals because we’ve not been able to distinguish well between the important and the trivial.  As I’ve said before here, one of my main goals (for myself personally as well as everyone else through my work) is to really embrace my own personal power and make decisions in my life that serve me instead of someone else.  By deciding that I need to filter information to only what I need, I’ll be feeling better about myself and filtering out that which doesn’t serve me.

What spam is still coming at you, and how do you filter it?

As I’ve written here before, I’ve become a big proponent of the Getting Things Done system promoted by David Allen. It’s been instrumental to my increasing ability to look at the things in life I want to accomplish, and actually achieving them. I don’t have the system down pat by any means but I’m working on it.

Part of my spiritual/productivity practice is to mine the shared knowledge of others who are also on this journey of accomplishing their dreams. One of these places is a podcast run by Tara Rodden Robinson of Corvallis, Oregon. The GTD Virtual Study Group (GTD-VSG for short) has been have two calls a month on various topics related to GTD for the past 2.5 years. I usually listen on the podcast that they have of the call.

The last call was about “Coping with the Information Tsunami” and the group discussed how individuals managed all the different floods of information that come to us everyday. This, and another related post by Augusto Pinaud on identifying the different “In Baskets” in his life, made me realize that one of the main problems that I’ve been facing in being overwhelmed is that I have too many sources of input coming at me.

I have discovered over the past few years that personal power is about your ability to make wise choices about the situation that you’re presented with, instead of reacting. I realized here that I was thinking that I might “miss something” if it’s there and I don’t see it. When I counted up all the different blogs, magazines, email accounts, etc. that I look at regularly for information, I realized that I was operating out of fear that I’d miss something, instead of the need for that information.

Just noticing this has helped me to look critically at why I’m spending so much energy checking and chasing after this information.  I’ve already cut a number of blogs off my Google Reader and giving myself the okay not to read some magazines. It’s also allowing me mentally to choose to focus on some books and articles that I know will be helpful to me.

I’m feeling calmer and in more control with this realization, which is allowing me to get more done.

So, what data inputs do you have, and are they the ones that serve you, or are you serving them? Let me know your thoughts.

PS – I’m going to be the guest speaker on the next GTD Virtual Study Group Podcast on Thursday, March 25, 2010 and I’ll be discussing Using GTD for Career Development.  Check out the Resonare Consulting website next week for a handout to accompany that talk.

A funny thing happened to me recently. As February turned to March and it seemed noticeably brighter, I had this great urge for a change in my life. The fastest thing I could think of was to shave my beard off. I had a rough fall with my mother dying and a major hospitalization, and I needed something do delineate a change.

My stylist Alex at Alfred’s Salon in Harvard Square shaved it off and told me I look 10 years younger. I posted on Facebook that I had shaved it off, and I got many comments about how I looked so good with it and it was a crime that I shaved it. I was looking forward to the comments I would get surprised comments from everyone, as I’m now presenting a readically new look.

Funny thing: no one has noticed.

It’s been almost two weeks, and no one at work has commented. I’ve seen many friends, and no one mentioned it (unless I pointed it out). Only one woman at church said she wouldn’t have recognized me unless I had my nametag on. I asked a good friend why, and her answer was that she thinks that we’re all preoccupied by something else so we don’t notice that changes.

Makes me think about what I’m not noticing. Where are the areas in your life that you are going with blinders, and not noticing? What opportunities are you missing?  Are there possibilities for growth (personal or profession) that are passing you by because you’re not mental around?

I just finished delivering the Finding Your Calling workshop at Easton Mountain and it was s great experience. While it was disappointing that sone of the participants couldn’t make it through the isolated heavy snowfalls (One guy who couldn’t make it said that his town about 1.5 hours south of Albany got 3 feet of snow whereas the next town north got 2 inches!), those that did had a good experience. I’ve been in recovery mode since but need to start reading the feedback, notating the areas that I’ll do differently next time. Onto the next program!

One thing that did crystallize for me in this program is that, while the subject was career exploration, the real topic was personal power. Throughout the workshop, whether it was discussing past successes, personality types, or how to answer interview questions, it really came down to knowing what you want and having the intention of making that happen. In order to do that, you have to believe in yourself and feel you have value. As you can imagine, that’s tough for most of us but an amazing feeling when you identify it in yourself.

Granted, we can’t affect everything in this world (see my blog post about that) but we are powerful when we can clearly see what is in front of us, and makes decisions with a confidence. Too often, people make decisions out of fear. While that is sometime necessary (“Look Out! A tiger’s charging us!”), more often we are not in life or death situations that require that skill. When fear rules, you lose your ability to make decisions that are best for you.

If we learn to respond to the situations before us, and not react, we will be living in our power, and be regents of our lives.

I’m still striving to respond more and react less. Um… probably at 60% responding now, but still mess up. What’s your percentage?

Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

I am a career consultant who specializes in the connection between what your spirit wants to do in the world, and how to marry that to the work that you do in order to support yourself. While I work with people in all fields, I specialize in working with "creative entrepreneurs" and the LGBT community.

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