Is Luxury Stingy? Overpriced Hotels and Restaurants

I love staying at nice hotels, but often they feel like a ripoff.

While the La Quinta Inn in Walla Walla Washington offers free wifi, the Grand Hyatt in Los Angeles charges $5 a day.

While In and Out offers free refills on sodas, some five star restaurants charge you $2.00 for every glass you get.

The cost of hosting one more person on wifi or giving someone another $.05 glass of soda is marginal, but the impact is significant.

Maybe most people that go to nice restaurants and hotels don’t care about a dollar or two here or there. But for me instead of creating an experience of luxury, it creates an experience of stinginess. I start to feel like I’m getting nickeled and dimed, because that’s what’s happening.

Which makes me think about who I am as a leader and business owner. Because generosity (within reason) almost always leads to a sense of spaciousness and abundance. Whereas holding things tightly creates the opposite impact on both sides.

So the question is how do I want people to experience me as a leader. After all, the word of mouth created by my generosity is much less expensive than the cost of advertising.


Go First

It’s always easier to wait. For the other person to say I love you.

For the other person to apologize.

For the other person to admit how they’ve been wrong and stupid and childish

But don’t do the easy thing go first

Say I love you. Even if you’re not sure they’ll say it back.

Apologize even if you might be the more wronged party

Admit that you messed up screwed up and acted a fool

It takes a spoonful of humility and a bucket full of grace

But when you do go first and say

the thing that takes courage you can lead others from fear and doubt

into love and grace

and it all starts with going first


Why I’m Not As Smart As I Thought – 4 Ways to Connect with Anyone

Caution Stairs, Why I'm Not As Smart As I Thought - 4 Rules To Make More Connection, connection, communication, challenges, listen, heart connection, talk to anyone, conversation skills, You Think You’re So Smart
I used to think, that I was so F-ing smart. I blamed all my social woes on my above average intelligence. People just couldn’t interact on the same level with me. Or that’s what I thought, until I met a Zen Master.

The Zen Master
After moving into Great Vow Zen Monastery, I learned that it’s customary for new residents to have tea with one of the teachers. It’s a special privilege and super intimidating.

I remember entering the tearoom. It wasn’t huge but it was filled with sacred art, wall hangings, as well as, rare and valuable objects. The Zen master made tea slowly and mindfully. I watched trying my best not to be nervous.

When we started talking. He would ask a question and listen carefully to my response. It was scary. Yet, I felt safe enough to reveal myself in many ways I normally wouldn’t.

During the tea, I told him that I struggled connecting with people. I felt like it was hard for me because I was so smart. I felt like people couldn’t meet me on my level.

The Folly of Youth
Before I tell you what he said. I should say that it is dangerous to tell a Zen Master how awesome you are. Being confident is great, but excess pride is folly in life. And especially with someone who can see through your BS.

His reply was kind, but put me in my place. He started talking about the other teacher and Zen Master at the monastery. He told me of her accomplishments and skill as a doctor and teacher.

This explanation conveyed that she was not only smart, but had accomplished a lot with her intelligence. (The latter was something I was very much lacking.)

Then he said, “If you watch her she meets every person where they are at. It doesn’t matter if they are the smartest person or the dimmest. She is able to connect with them. She makes them feel seen and heard. That is the test of real intelligence, more than anything else.”

I had never thought of it that way before. When I had struggled to connect instead of looking at myself, I blamed it on everyone else.

I realized that I was looking ‘out there’ without doing the hard work ‘in here.’

I soon found this lesson applied to all parts of my life. And that message has stayed with me.

Now when I talk to people I don’t think, “Is this person worth my time?” I think, “How can I connect? What do they care about?”

4 Rules To Connect
Along the way, I learned a few things. I’ve found that most people are easy to connect with if you follow 4 simple rules.

1. Ask open-ended questions:
This is the oldest trick in the book. Ask questions that can’t be answered with a yes or a no. Questions like, “What do you do for a living?… How did you get into that business?”
“What do you like to do with your free time? … How did you get started in that hobby?”

People love to talk about themselves. If you can get someone talking about what they care about, they will often come alive.

2. Ask expansive follow up questions:
You may have noticed this above, but you should always have a good follow up question. People are used to being asked what they do. But a great follow up will reveal much more.
Some examples are:
What is the biggest challenge you face in your current career?
What do you know now that you wish you knew 5 years ago?
What are your favorite aspects of what you love to do ?

Each of these questions asks for more than just information. They ask for analysis, reflection, and engagement.

3. Make eye contact, lean in, smile, and nod.
Don’t over do it, but this works wonders. It gives you something to focus on. Plus it will encourage the person to keep going. Nonverbal cues are huge parts of our language so don’t neglect them.

4. Really listen and reflect.
The biggest key to connecting is actually listening. People are used to others being polite. Show you are paying attention by hearing what they are saying and reflecting it back to them.

One trick my teacher always recommended was to imagine a beam of energy running from their heart to yours. This will help you feel connected even if you aren’t interested in the same things they are.

MindFitMove Practice

  • Think of someone who you have had a hard time connecting with.
  • Maybe a coworker or a neighbor.
  • Don’t choose someone you have a lot of conflict with, but someone more neutral to start.
  • Try out the above techniques and see what you find out.
  • Learning to be present with anyone is one of the best gifts we can give the world.

Let’s Discuss
What tricks do you use when you are trying to connect?


Have You Made The One Choice That Changes Everything?

Fork in the road, Have You Made The One Choice That Changes Everything?, Blog One Choice, responsibility, take responsibility, growing up, own your life, positive thinking, change, blaming yourself, taking control, communication, integrity, thought control, gain respect,One Choice
There is one choice that can change everything about you.

It’s not choosing positive thinking, or a new workout regime. It’s not choosing which job to take or whom to date. These are all important choices but this choice is bigger.

It can change all of those things and more. It’s a revolutionary choice. It’s a dynamic choice; a choice that sets you apart from the crowd; a choice that stands at the center of your life.

The problem is it’s not an easy choice. It takes sacrifice, but it’s worth it. It’s worth almost anything you give up, because this choice is the first step to lasting transformation.

This amazing, rare, and hard choice is the choice to take responsibility for your life. You may think you’ve already done this. But lets look at what this choice is and what it isn’t.

Taking Responsibility Is Not About:

Blaming Yourself
Taking responsibility means empowering yourself. Whereas blaming yourself, means becoming a victim.

Responsibility isn’t about being perfect. It’s about accepting our imperfection and taking a step towards a whole way of being.

When you blame yourself, you become your faults. When you take responsibility, you become your potential for change.

Taking Control
Much of what happens is out of our control. It’s hard to accept but it’s true. And taking responsibility isn’t about trying to change that.

When we take responsibility, we just shift focus. We let got of the uncontrollable. And instead work to guide our own hearts and minds.

When we focus on our own growth, we find that the uncontrollable doesn’t change. But our relationship to it does.

Taking Responsibility for Others
No matter how hard we try, we can’t change anyone else. Taking responsibility isn’t about changing other people.

It’s about owning our own path. When we live our lives in integrity and faith, we give others the chance to do the same.

Taking Responsibility for the World
The world can be a crazy place. It’s worthwhile to have compassion, but we have to realize we aren’t responsible for the world’s problem.

We are only responsible for our inner peace or inner chaos. Wanting to change the world is wonderful. But before we can change the world, we must change ourselves.

Taking Responsibility Is About:

Owning Your Words
The first step to taking responsibility is owning what you say. Too often, we use language that blames others and disempowers ourselves.

Instead of saying, “I have to,” say “I choose to.” Everything we do is a choice. We may not like the other options and some choices are hard, but denying responsibility won’t help.

Instead of saying, “They made me,” say, “When they did x I chose to do y.” Reactivity happens, but if we want to be skillful, we have to own our reactions.

When we own what we say we start to see where we can make a change.

Owning Your Actions
Once you start owning what you say, you’ll find you almost have to own what you do. Our lives are made of everything we choose to do and not do.

By taking responsibility for our actions, we gain integrity. We also begin to gain insight into why we act the way we do. In this way, taking responsibility for our actions becomes the foundation for changing our lives.

Owning Your Thoughts
It all starts with your thoughts. If you don’t think it, you don’t do it. You can’t always choose what thoughts arise, but you can choose which ones to indulge.

Ask yourself, “Is this a helpful thought?” If it is, go for it. If it’s not, don’t put any more energy into it.

At first, this will seem impossible, but with practice, you can learn to let go of unhealthy thoughts and generate supportive ones.

Creating a Foundation for Respect
Once you start owning your words, actions, and thoughts something changes. You begin to respect yourself in a new way.

When you respect yourself, others will respect you as well. The best part is this respect isn’t based on power. It’s based on having a good heart and integrity.

This kind of respect can’t be manufactured. It has to be grown organically from a strong center of responsibility.

Making Transformation Possible
When we take responsibility, we begin to see who we are. Once we know this, we can choose who we want to be.

By taking responsibility of who we are, our light is able to shine through. Excuses, blaming, and complaining only hide that true light.

Don’t indulge them. Choose to shine.


Why Nobody Likes You – 4 Steps to Deal with Their Opinions

What People Are Really Thinking About You - 5 Steps to Deal with Projections and Stories, stories, rejection, mistakes, dealing with others, drama, group dynamics, communication, requests, authenticity, integrity, roommates, roommate fightsI recently moved into a new place and I set about doing my best to become part of the community.

Except it seemed like I kept making mistakes. I was supposed to clean this in a certain way. I wasn’t supposed to pick that from the garden. I didn’t ask the right person about whether or not I could use this. The list goes on and on.

Mistakes Were Made
I was doing my best to be mindful, but when you’re new, you make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are met with understanding, sometimes they’re met with irritation.

It’s not so much a factor of how nice the people are or how clear the guidelines may be. The real key is the assumptions other people make about what’s going on in your mind.

You will make an error and someone will begin to say something. As they speak you realize they have already formed an opinion about who you are and why you are doing this.

Story Time
I have seen in the eyes of others dialogues about me being selfish. Stories about me being dirty and thoughtless. Stories of my malice, my rudeness, and my general disregard for others. It matters little whether their assessments are true. The mind seeks to rationalize others actions.

I do this just as much. There are times I make up stories about the stories they must be telling. I have projected many ideas onto other people.

But it’s always hard to know what to do about it. Arguing with others’ stories is useless unless there is trust. And very often, there isn’t.

So, what do your do when you confront others strong opinions about who you are?

1. Listen the Best You Can.
People want to be heard more than anything else. Even if they have a story about you, it’s best to just listen. Try to hear what they are saying without objecting internally or externally.

2. Reflect Without Ownership
Reflect their perspective using phrases like these: “So you imagined when I did …” and “From your perspective that meant…” Don’t take on blame or guilt, but reflect their perspective. Until we feel heard by someone else, it’s hard to be open to another way of seeing. Arguing with their stories really won’t help.

3. Don’t Own the Story Internally or Externally
I want to reiterate, DON’T OWN THE STORY. It’s their story, know that it isn’t true. One perspective is rarely true.

Only if the person is a trusted advisor should you hold their perspective with a lot of weight. We rarely see ourselves with clarity and are even less clear in seeing others. Because everything is filtered through our own lens.

4. Ask Them to Make a Specific Doable Request
Once you feel like you have heard their story or complaint ask them to make a specific doable request.

Unsure what that is? A specific doable request is something you could film on an iPhone before the battery dies. For example, you would be willing to take out the trash tomorrow or help with the dishes tonight.

Avoid vague requests such as, ‘Can you clean better?’ Or, ‘Can you communicate more?’

These are common requests but they have no back end and no way to know if you’re doing them. Without specific parameters, you will never know if you have completed the request.

The request also can’t be a demand or an ultimatum. If the request comes in the form of, do this or else, it’s a demand. The ‘or else’ may be implied or very blatant in either case it isn’t a good faith request.

If it’s a demand, there isn’t much you can do about it. You can try to change it into a request but it may not work. Usually demands stay demands, and in either case the next step is …

4. Are You Willing to Do it?
Are you are willing to meet their request from a place of authenticity and integrity? Submitting to someone else’s desires won’t work over the long haul. If you can honor the request in good faith, great!

Clarify what they are asking and let them know you’d be happy to do it. If you aren’t then say so or excuse your self from the situation and perhaps the relationship.

Relationships are built on trust and safety. If you don’t feel safe, then the relationship won’t work.

Be polite and firm. Offer negotiation if you are willing to negotiate, but life is too short to give up yourself to others.

No relationship is worth sacrificing who you are as a person. Harmony is just as important as respecting your own boundaries.

MindFitMove Practice
What is one area of your life where you struggle to create and maintain boundaries?
Come up with 2-3 strategies to start creating boundaries in that part of your life.
Practice saying No in a kind gentle way to things you only do out of obligation.
Practice saying Yes to your life, your values, and your own authentic self.


Talking Your Way Through A Mindfield

Man walking through mudSpeaking In A Minefield
Speaking is like walking through a minefield blindfolded. We are so focused on ourselves we often fail to see that our words have blown up. Our meaning has been scattered to the winds but we are none the wiser.

Here are three communication mines we face, as teachers, students, managers, and employees.

1. Confidence
The correct amount of confidence is tricky. Have too much confidence and you lose connection. Have too little confidence and no one listens.

You have to be honest about what you don’t know. At the same time, you have to feel ok about your limitations.

When I work with my teaching partner in Yoga school, I notice that I’m most effective when I’m calm, but not cocky. Whenever I think I know exactly what to do, I lose her.

Confidence has to do with our ability to be aware and present. When I’m attentive and focused, I give clear directions.

Life is more than just knowing it all. Experience is great but only when it gives us more space to be present.

2. Projection
We usually project what we want to see. We miss all the things that make others unique. Without this data, we can never connect with them.

Nevertheless, I’ve found some projection is necessary for effective communication.

When directing someone into a Yoga pose you have to project your own understanding of the movements onto your student. At the same time, you have to hold an awareness of how your words are affecting their body.

This balancing act is present in all communication. If we notice our words losing impact it’s great to check in on how we are projecting and whether or not it’s working.

3. Frustration/confusion
As a teacher, my students don’t owe me anything. As a friend, employee, or even manager the same is true.

Having authority can lead us to believe we are entitled to be listened to. However, this attitude is rarely helpful.

Instead, we must try to make our communication accessible.

When I was working with my Yoga partner I noticed frustration arising when I gave a direction and she didn’t do anything.

She may have been following the instruction already. She may have not understood. She may have thought my directions were wrong.

Why she didn’t move doesn’t matter. My job as her teacher is to make my directions work for her. This asks me to I invite rather than command her to act.

In every situation, we should always work towards invitation. This has more to do with the attitude we bring than the words we use.

The key is remembering that we are indebted to our listener. They have given us their attention. We must repay this gift with the calm attention and clarity.

MindFitMove Practice
– Think of something you’d like to communicate to someone: A partner, friend, co-worker, student, or boss.
– Take a few minutes and write out exactly what you want to say.
– Then put this aside for a couple hours or a couple of days.
– When you come back too it read it out loud to yourself.
– Try reading it with confidence and then with uncertainty.
– Try reading it imagining their face in a scowl and then in a smile.
– Try reading it as a demand and then as an invitation.
– Then reflect of these tests and rewrite the phrase.
– Finally try expressing this idea to them keeping in mind the 3 mines you learned about in this post.