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 Helping Managers and Salespeople Thrive in Turbulent Times Vol. 2, #5, August 2004 
in this issue
  • To Have And Have Not
  • About Jim Schaffer & Associates

  • Greetings!

    This month we discuss how true wealth may be less about achieving our goals than making sure each moment is filled with riches.
    As always, just click "reply" to send along your comments at any time.

    Best regards,

    Jim Schaffer
    President, Jim Schaffer & Associates

    To Have And Have Not

    Here's a dirty, dark secret: we've become a stratified group of workers in the nearly two years since I launched this newsletter.Among us this summer, unlike 2002 when nearly everyone was feeling dour, there are clearly haves and have-nots.

    The haves are divided into what I call the happy haves and the restless haves. The happy haves either sailed through the recession without losing too much steam or have bounced back strongly. Their incomes are high, their career altitude is solid, and they're not worried. The restless haves fit the same objective criteria, only they are not enjoying themselves. The two main reasons for this are: A.They are much more concerned than the happy haves that their prosperity rests on shifting sand and could all change in an instant and B:They are exhausted.

    The have-nots are really what I would call have- lesses.(I am speaking about the newsletter group right now, not our society-at-large, which is even more stratified). These are people who are mostly employed at this point, but at reduced incomes and often at a lower level than just a few years ago. Ironically, I have found some in this group to be the most content among us. These gleeful have-nots are really grateful for what they have and are enjoying fewer responsibilities in their work and more balance in their lives. The rest of the have-nots are despondent, wondering "Why me?" and not seeing many outward signs that they will once again ride high.

    We're in deep summer, now, and wealth — the Chinese symbol for which is depicted above — may be less on our minds than the water temperature at the beach. Yet many of us have recently gone through mid- year reviews and strategic planning for how we are going to hit our second half goals. Some of us may even believe those strategies are going to get us to the finish line, though the Dilbert fans among us have gone through enough of these exercises to know they are just that: in real life, anything can happen between now and the end of the year. Regardless of whether we consider ourselves haves or have-nots, each of us needs to stay focused and deliver results over the next four months.

    But how? And is staying focused enough?

    Ezra Bayda, Zen instructor and author of Being Zen; Bringing Meditation to Life, points out:

    "In an attempt to keep from falling through the cracks in the ice, we choose our strategy, either working harder at maintaining control of our lives or making misguided attempts to escape from our difficulties with diversions, pleasures or busyness."

    That very strategy, according to Bayda, is blocking our way to true wealth. Only when we cease clinging to pleasure and avoiding pain and begin to just sit with the moment, asking "What is this?" can we begin to live effective, enjoyable lives. He writes:

    "As we cultivate our willingness to just be, we discover that everything is workable. Until we come to know what this means, we are cutting ourselves off from the openness, the connectedness, and the appreciation that are our human gifts."

    We can achieve monetary and career success by staying busy and organized, but that success is as tiring as it is temporary; we become as good as our last achievement (it is not an accident that one of our greatest American plays is not entitled "Death of a CPA."). Achieving lasting success, true wealth, requires attending to the moment whatever it may bring, staying open, being in a state of inquiry.

    Here are some wealth strategies for the second half that will help you achieve your goals and end up feeling healthy and whole come December 31st:

    1. Cultivate Your Own Garden. Comparing oneself to others is a normal human obsession. At work, we often have the illusion we are directly comparable to others with the same job title or responsibilities as we, either in our own company or in similar spots in others. But the truth is much different. Each of us is on his/her own path. One person may have a child with special needs, another secretly wants to resign and become an Outward Bound instructor, another is restoring a church in his grandfather's native village in Greece. Whatever comparisons we are making are illusory and, at best, highly temporal. By realizing in a deep way that we are on our own path, even what we perceive as temporary dips in luck become part of the wealth of our lives, opportunities to learn — about ourselves and the environments in which we work. This wealth we refer to as wisdom.
    2. Love The One(s) You're With. Steve Stills' rock lyrics contained romantic advice, but the same advice holds true for work. Try to savor the daily interaction, to see the people around you as a real gift, even those you find difficult. Every encounter is for a reason. How you react to people has as much to say about you as it does about others. You'll know you're wealthy when even your nemeses bring you a feeling of joy.
    3. Take Responsibility For Your Own Health. Your managers don't have the bandwidth. It is important to pay attention to your physical, mental and spiritual states. Burnout will drain your wealth on a daily basis and could have long-term negative effects (email me and I will share lessons learned from my own bout with it twenty years ago). Find ways to stay fit, stay positive, and develop a sense of equanimity.

    Have? Have not? In some ways, these phrases are narratives we weave for ourselves rather than true reflections of reality. I'll admit it's hard to feel whole and optimistic right now, given the embattled world atmosphere and all the evidence of corporate greed beaming at us every day from the media. After all, part of experiencing wealth is having a sense that our hard work matters, that the forces of good, even at work, will ultimately win out.

    It's not surprising that we have lost that sense, but it is important to understand that even the worst of these events are moments in time, not global truths. And moments give way to other moments. I'm not saying you should give up your outrage, only to keep it attached to its real trigger and not let it spill over into a widespread sense of futility.

    Miracles do happen, after all. Who among us ever thought there would be a time when we were friendly with the Russians? Or that surgeons would one day routinely bypass clogged arteries surrounding the heart? The same is true at work. We can make money and take care of our customers in the process, helping to build companies that are positive forces in the world while we feed ourselves and our families. No matter how long you've been in business or how jaded you think you've become, there is still magic to be had.

    As my old Australian hippie friend David used to say,

    "How near is far when you travel by star."

    See you on the beach (limited access to e-mail)!

    For a daily Zen quote, click here:

    About Jim Schaffer & Associates

    Jim Schaffer & Associates helps management teams & salespeople stay focused, get results and keep high morale — regardless of what may be going on around them.

    Copyright 2004 by Jim Schaffer & Associates.

    To subscribe to this newsletter, simply send an email with your request to: jim@jimschaffer.com.


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