BtoB Matters Vol. 1, No. 5

Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow.
The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
Abraham Lincoln

Character development is way an individual blends knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, and beliefs into personal meaning and actions. This blending of contexts throughout life coincides with my perspective on the integration of lifelong learning and personal development. Your character should be the same when no one is looking AND when everyone is looking.  CharacterLab defines character as:

Character refers to ways of thinking, acting, and feeling that benefit others as well as ourselves. Character is plural—encompassing strengths of heart, mind, and will. Strengths of heart (such as gratitude and kindness) enable harmonious relationships with other people. Strengths of mind (such as curiosity and creativity) enable independent thinking. Strengths of will (such as grit and self-control) enable us to achieve goals.

The feature articles this month highlighted 4 of the 13 attributes CharacterLab identified as key to a strong character.

Creativity, Curiosity, Purpose, and Growth Mindset

Character is the core a person’s principles and actions revealing the mindset of values for self and society.  Lickona (1993) states that “through history, education has always had two great goals: to help people become smart and to help them become good” (p. 8). Character education is a learning process we can carry throughout our lifetime. Respect, justice, civic virtue, and responsibility for self and others should not be discarded once we leave formal education. Being a “good” person through life matters. Behaviors and actions build your reputation which creates opportunities for personal and professional development.

CharacterLabs Playbooks are guides to cultivate “strengths of heart, mind, and will.”  The 13 elements include gratitude, curiosity, grit, kindness, creativity, growth mindset, honesty, intellectual humility, self-control, purpose, proactivity, emotional intelligence, and social intelligence.

I was drawn to the playbooks of character because I can connect these elements to aspects of Blooms to Blossoms purpose.  All 13 factors align with the 7 Dimensions of Wellness.  All 13 factors require lifelong learning and contribute to personal development through how you model it, celebrate it, and enable it.  Using these 13 playbooks to guide education of students or your own growth will “cultivate strengths of heart, mind, and will”.

Feature articles can be found at CharacterLab Playbooks
**Creativity: Thinking of Novel Solutions 
**Curiosity: Wanting to Know More 
**Purpose: Commitment to Making a Meaningful Contribution
**Growth Mindset: Believing you Can Improve Your Abilities

Read more on the topic: I encourage you to select other of the 13 playbooks based on your personal interest and consider how you encourage the development of each factor for yourself and others.

I hope you take some time to review the CharacterLab Playbooks and use the Habits of the Mind (link below) to strengthen your heart, mind, and will. Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2-8, 2021) is a good time to reflect on the value teachers have in promoting character and habits of the mind. Teachers make a difference!! We are all “teachers and students”…consider how you interact with others throughout your day (when and where do you “teach” and when and where do you “learn”).

More May Feature Articles include:

The 16 Habits of Mind That Make You Smarter
The habits themselves are nothing new or revolutionary. Costa and Kallick (2008) believe these habits are less on behavior but more on intent.

Read more on the topic of Habits of the Mind: Describing 16 Habits of the Mind

Visual Happiness

Recently a couple friends sent me messages about the Yale online course The Science of Well-Being.  They thought I would be interested in the course for a variety of reasons. The main reason is the topic fits with the intent of my blog.  It is interesting that they contacted me as I have mentioned this course a few months ago on Facebook. Last week the Today Show aired a segment with Happiness Lab’s professor Laurie Santos. In the interview she shares 5 ways to feel better.

In the interview Santos discusses 5 tips that can help elevate your mood and help you feel better during this stressful time.

Learning to draw and sketch has been on my “wish I knew how to” list for a couple of years now.  I had an idea!!

Disclaimer: Drawings below are suitable for all audiences…HA…however, they may not be worthy of posting on your refrigerator…HA!!

My idea:
Share some of my “drawings” that depict Santos’ tips

Santos Tip #1: Belly Breathing – to deactivate (sympathetic nervous system or fight or flight mode).

Calming breathes, yoga, taking a walk, sitting outside are ways to stop and refresh.

Santos Tip #2: Kindness – in addition to self-care, do an act of kindness or helping someone.

Be kind to yourself,
then let your kindness fill the world.
Unknown

Santos Tip #3: Focus on what you can control – actively try to be healthy and mindful of your well-being.

Time with family (for me that’s my husband and our cats) keeps me focused on our well-being.

Time spent with cats is never wasted.
S. Freud

Santos Tip #4: Exercise, eat healthy, sleep enough – back to the basics

At the end of the 19th century
“an apple a day keeps the doctor away” 
became a popular phrase.
A good start toward getting back to basics.

Santos Tip #5: Actively practice gratitude – mood and resilience improves when you focus on blessings.

The oak tree symbolizes strength, knowledge and resilience.
We should all be grateful for the strength, knowledge and resilience
of ourselves and each other.

Her current course “The Science of Well-Being” starts TODAY…I’m enrolled!!

In this course you will engage in a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits. As preparation for these tasks, Professor Laurie Santos reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change. You will ultimately be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life.

Another friend sent this to me last week. I hoped I’ve passed along a little kindness and love to my readers.

Breathe, be kind, stay focused, be healthy, be grateful.

Unlocking Your Potential in Solitude

Being alone is much different than being lonely; perspective is the key.  Quality time alone can be beneficial to well-being. Cherry (2020, para. 2) acknowledges that social connectivity and solitude are both virtues of a healthy life.  She discusses the benefits of findings things to do by yourself by stating, “Doing things by yourself allows you to enjoy activities you love at your own pace and in your own way. Through solitary pursuits, you learn more about yourself and reflect on your experiences.”  

Thrive Global is an online magazine launched by Arianna Huffington (2007).  The goal is to “create something real and tangible that would help individuals, companies and communities improve their well-being and performance and unlock their greatest potential.” The magazine’s Stories section includes topics on Well-Being, Wisdom, Wonder, Purpose, Sleep, Special Sections, and Community.

Some of the topics included in the Special Sections are mental health, meditative stories, work-life balance, wellbeing, social change, and never stop learning. Freelance writers, myself included, publish articles to Thrive’s Community section.

As I mentioned last week, “I am actually someone who likes to stay at home however it has been a bit challenging when the decisions to stay at home is not solely my own.”  I initially found the solitude of social-distance/stay at home situation to be a bit challenging but have now embraced the opportunities provided by this time. Last week there were a couple Thrive articles I thought would be worth sharing.  These are timely based on the current social-distancing guidelines/stay in place policy and the isolation some may be feeling.  

Swantkoski’s (2020)  article, 4 Lessons I’ve Learned From Social Distancing: Adjusting my mindset has allowed me to stay optimistic during this time, discusses the following four key points.

**Now is a great time to think about priorities.
**We always say we don’t have time, but the truth is, we don’t make the time.
**You cannot control what happens, but you can control how you react to it.
**You won’t ever get this time back, so make the most of it – whatever that means to you.

Most of us are finding ourselves having more free time than we’ve ever had and may ever have again. Time is the only thing we can never get back, and we should make the most of it. For some, this will be a season full of extra rest. Others may want to be productive either personally or professionally. Some will develop new hobbies and interests during this time. No matter how you choose to spend this time, do in your heart what’s best for you and don’t forget to make the most of it.

Friedrich (1822)  The framework of the window links proximity and distance and evokes a longing for the unknown.  The outward gaze, contemplating nature, also turns inwards towards the individual’s own spiritual center.

Leon’s (2020) article Why I’m Focusing on Seeing the Upside: The pandemic is making me take a step back and appreciate small moments of positivity, discusses the following five key points.

**Humor
**Change
**Technology
**Authenticity
**Connection

I’ve found that in my fifty years of life, optimism has never prevented me from hard times and heartache. But like with faith, it helps me rise up and find a way to live a life worth living after I’ve fallen. This crisis is huge and hard and sad, but I’m positive we will get through it together, laughing, changing, innovating, being real, and spreading cheer all the while.

Friedrich (1818) Standing in contemplation and self-reflection the wanderer considers moments about the unforeseen future. By placing his back toward the viewer he is not shutting them out – rather he enables them to see the world through his own eyes, to share and convey his personal experience.

Cherry (2020) concludes by stating, “Alone time is for focusing on you—for cultivating your passions, finding new inspirations, getting to know yourself better, or even engaging in some much-needed rest and relaxation.”

Stuff Happens: Time to Retune

It is a challenge to objectively evaluate how life is progressing. I often make sports analogies in my writing however I find that “evaluating” life is hard to quantify or score. My first blog this year, Intentions Rather Than Resolutions, outlined plans for the year and I made the distinction between intentions and resolutions. 

To me, New Year’s resolutions are goals we think we “should” achieve while intentions are goals, we want to achieve.  Intentions set the direction for the upcoming year.  My intentions create my plan and the desired result I wish to achieve is my goal.

One expected outcome of setting your direction (goals) for the year is to have a happy life.  Lyubomirsky’s (2010) description of happiness aligns directly with Blooms to Blossoms purpose when she says that happiness is a state positive well-being combined with a sense of a meaningful and worthwhile life.

I have found that identifying a purpose is a guide to happiness and satisfaction.  This purpose leads to relationship building and gratefulness.

Purpose (Meaning) + Relationships (Linkage) +Gratefulness (Thankful) = Happiness

Kahneman & Deaton (2010) research on happiness supports the idea that objectively measuring how “life is going” is not easy.  They reviewed Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (GHWBI) data, which include measures of subjective well-being, from 450,000 US residents collected by the Gallup Organization.  Two aspects of subjective well-being are emotional wellness and life evaluation.

“Emotional well-being refers to the emotional quality of an individual’s everyday experience—the frequency and intensity of experiences of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection that make one’s life pleasant or unpleasant. Life evaluation refers to the thoughts that people have about their life when they think about it.”

The plans we make at the new year serve as a guide as we move through each month, week, and day.  At times, a “bump in the road” will result in an unexpected ending…sometimes better, sometimes not so much.  

Last week I was thinking about a couple “intentions” I have that have not progressed as I had hoped. During this time, my husband was upstairs practicing guitar (one of his primary hobbies).  When he begins his practice the first task is to tune his guitar.  There are four types of alternate tunings (open, instrumental, regular, and special).

“Open” tuning is the most simple and common tuning to “special” tunings which are a grouping of miscellaneous tunings created in recent years.  Anyone who plays guitar knows that it is a general rule to tune your guitar every day and that the tuning is determined by the piece of music selected.

There are several reasons a guitar goes out of tune; a couple examples are:

**Old strings can keep you from that perfect tuning. As they wear, they lost their capability to hold tension, making them feel brittle and less able to hit the fret. That will make some notes to sound sharp.

**Strings are affected by extreme changes in temperature, as they will expand when it’s warm (making it sound flat) and contract when cold (resulting in a sharper sound).

Listening to my husband tune his guitar made me realize that in life we need to retune or reset…lack of progress, a bump in the road, a crossroad leading to a change does not mean the intended purpose will not be achieved…the intended purpose may merely change. Confidence in the original plan may be high but the needed change may be a blessing in disguise.  

Fader (2014) published an article on Psychology Today using “tune your guitar” as an analogy to reach happiness. 

Purpose (Meaning) + Relationships (Linkage) +Gratefulness (Thankful) = Happiness

“Over time, a guitar inevitably comes out of tune—not because it’s a bad guitar, but because that’s the nature of guitars. In fact, the key to maintaining a guitar is to notice when it’s not in tune and continually re-tune it…”

“Keeping a guitar well-calibrated involves a series of small tunings and re-tunings. It should be the same way with happiness: your happiness may fluctuate, it may even bottom out, but this doesn’t mean you should envision a huge insurmountable pyramid in which you need to reach the pinnacle of self-actualization for true happiness. It just means you need to adapt to your new equilibrium, to re-tune your inner guitar. That’s what happiness is—our ability to make the small but meaningful adaptations to whatever life throws at you.”

Just like guitar strings there are many reasons plans/goals go out of tune…some we can control and some we cannot.  Stuff happens.  It is time to retune and reengage.

Spending time on yourself to further your personal development is a great way to value your well-being, happiness, and success.  McGinley (2017)

Second Chances

We can all relate…we have all had a need for a second chance to try again.  It would be hard to image life without second chances.  Mistakes happen, no one is perfect.  Second chances are important. A second chance is a gift that allows a person to do better. Growth and change can occur with opportunities to learn from mistakes. Giving and receiving a second chance is the gift that contributes to personal development and wellbeing for all involved and beyond. 

People sometimes make poor choices based on circumstances or stress. Since it is impossible to know exactly what someone else is thinking when they make poor choices, it is generous and kind to keep an open mind. Often a second chance is a magnanimous gesture that is a wise and mature choice. -Unknown-

Approaching a second chance should be with gratitude and excitement.  Recognizing and appreciating a new chance, a chance for a do-over/re-do, speaks to the premise of Blooms to Blossoms.  The giver AND receiver of a second chance benefit emotionally, morally, and spiritually as the shared experience enhances learning and development.  Life IS about second chances.  Giving someone a second chance is not wrong if as the person is willing to acknowledge the mistake and demonstrate change.

Fiallo (2017) shares personal experience in his Medium article Remember This When You Get A Second Chance, “A mistake can be a small thing. Or it can be a devastating thing. One that can change your life in an instant.  I experienced the consequence of a 4-year prison sentence, and at the end, was pulled out of the abyss to be given a second chance.”

He describes 5 aspects about life-saving second chances that could apply to all of us. 

*Second Chances are a Precious Blessing… treat a second chance like you would a precious and rare opportunity 

*Don’t Squander Second Chances…take every advantage to use the spirit with which it was given

*Run with Your Second Chance…be ready and execute

*One Second Chance Breeds Another… Be prepared for additional opportunities that WILL come your way

*Never Forget Your “Original” Sin… Dwelling on the past is not healthy. What’s done is done. Time to move on. But ignoring and not learning from it is equally if not more unhealthy.

My grandfather, Buddy, gave a second chance to a convict (C. W.).  During C.W.’s time in prison he enhanced his knowledge, skills, and abilities through productive use of time (lifelong learning). Through his acceptance of the consequences for his actions and the ability to cope and manage to improve himself (personal development) during this time Buddy felt he earned a second chance. 

1958 news article

When C.W. was released from prison, Buddy hired him to re-stain the woodwork in our house and to paint a picture for my grandma.  Buddy said C.W. made a mistake when he was young.  As far as I know, C.W. continued to do odd jobs, use his creative talents and later opened an office supply store. I believe he also married and had one child.

C.W. painting for my grandma…(currently in my parents home).
I hope to have this hanging in my home one day

Can you imagine what we would all miss if we did not give people a second chance?

Can you imagine where you would be and what you would be doing if not for second chances?

I have had my share of second chances in the past AND I hope that if needed in the future I would be gifted a second chance by a caring soul…like Buddy!! Below are a few quotes I hope will inspire you to be a giver and/or a gracious receiver of a second chance.

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.  
Carl Bard

I did then what I knew how to do.  Now that I know better, I do better.  
Maya Angelou

Sometimes life gives you a second chance, or even two! Not always, but sometimes. It’s what you do with those second chances that counts.     
Dave Wilson

A second chance doesn’t mean anything if you didn’t learn from your first.
Anurag Prakash Ray

Let tomorrow be your second chance to prove that you are better than today and yesterday.  
Ritu Ghatourey