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Days of Grace, Hours of Contemplation

By slowing down, clearing out the extraneous, and sharpening your focus, you have a better chance of succeeding

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Days of Grace is an autobiographical work by the late Arthur Ashe, a U.S. tennis player, sports commentator, and historian. Ashe died from AIDS at the age of 47, which he contracted as a result of a blood supply mix-up at a hospital lab. He was married and had a young daughter. He had finished writing a huge three-volume set on the history of the African-American athlete starting from the 1650’s.

While working to complete Days of Grace and spending time with his wife and daughter, he reflected upon the last few months of his life in a way that most people never do.

These were the Days of Grace, when time slowed down, and when each day was precious. Ashe said that he became profoundly thankful for each month, then each week, and then each day he had left.

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Sharpening Your Focus

Scheduling days of grace serves a real purpose. By slowing down, clearing out the extraneous, sharpening your focus, and becoming more in tune, on a higher level, as to what activities need to be handled, you have a better chance of succeeding than you would otherwise.

Contemplate the last time you were asked to tackle any project, on your own or within a small team. Someone, probably your boss, was waiting for the results, which you needed to turn in on a deadline.

What was your immediate reflexive action? For some people it is to clear the decks. They literally create space on their desks, conference tables, or other workplaces.

Give yourself the opportunity to work without disruption. Assemble the resources you need. For the time being, let other pressing issues fall by the wayside. Give the task at hand sharp focus.

To Win, Slow Down

Rushing through any task invariably results in down time, errors, and having to do things over again. The total “rush-through” time ends up equaling what it would have taken if you had proceeded more cautiously.

You’ve heard the old saw about not having enough time to do a job right the first time, yet having to make the time later to fix it. As I discuss in my book Breathing Space: Living and Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped Up Society, one of the great paradoxes of our age is that often, to flourish in our sped-up society, sometimes the first and most critical step is to slow down:

* to get your bearings,

* to read the instructions,

* to reflect, or

* to rest.

If you have to, read instruction manuals, books, articles, reports, briefs, or data sheets.  Allocate twice the time that you instinctively would to the organization, reading, and digestion of such materials.

Before sitting down to read or engage in any other information intake process, surround yourself with the tools that support your ability to capture the essence of what you are reading and aptly apply it.

What is it Like?

Here is an exercise for whatever you’ve been asked to handle and whatever results are to be achieved: Is there something else in your work, your life, or the world you can identify that is similar like to what you’ve been assigned?

Has there been a previous project that you can examine and learn from? Did you work on something in a previous position, come across an article or case study, or know someone who managed a situation that has some similarities to yours?

Going a step further, are there any processes in nature, politics, or relationships that have elements that you can draw upon? Looking for a metaphor is not some esoteric, airy-fairy type of recommendation.

After all, people tend to naturally do this anyway. We relate one or more things that we know to what we are presently trying to learn in order to make our learning task easier.

In the early days of personal computers, manufacturers and developers used a metaphor of the human brain in both the design and explanation of how computers work. It wasn’t a perfect match, but it was sufficient to give most people an idea as to what computers could do, how they operated, and how to put them to work for you.

Giving yourself time and slack by scheduling days of grace increases the probability of seeing corollaries between what you have been assigned to manage and other things that you have come across in work or in life.

Pad Your Schedule

This sounds like heresy but to the degree practical, give yourself extra time at the start of a new week. This is time not merely for reading, but for thinking, reflecting, scheduling, and anticipating critical junctures.

Too often, you are thrown into a situation, often on short notice, and asked to perform miraculous results. Even in such instances, if you can maneuver for some extra time up-front, insights as well as genuine opportunities emerge that otherwise might not have.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Education

‘Anti-Racists’ are Racist: Do Not Apologize for Being White

‘Anti-racists’ claim that whites, by virtue of their skin color, are detrimental to society

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Ibram X. Kendri, the bigoted professor from Boston University and director of their Center for Antiracist Research, says that whiteness is a problem for all of society, indeed for the entire globe. Who knew?!

Kendri, who was included in Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020, seemingly knows a lot about white people. In fact, he professes to know about every white person in America if not all over the world.

Me? I’m one of those people who merely gets up every day, brushes his teeth, gets dressed, eats a decent breakfast, and goes to work. I had no inkling that in the U.S. and other western nations white people like me had been “socialized to feel that they are inherently superior because they are white.” How naive I have been all these years!

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Now I discover that to be “less white” is a virtue! It requires one to be “less oppressive, less arrogant, less certain, less defensive, less ignorant,” and, more humble, more willing to listen, more willing to believe, and, get this, “to break with the apathy” that white people like me exhibit and “to break with white solidarity.”

Woke Institutions and Brainwashed Authors

White solidarity? Darn, nobody told me about this. Thank goodness it’s all become so clear thanks to enlightened (white) authors such as Robin DiAngelo, who wrote the thoroughly racist and condescending book White Fragility, and thanks to companies such as Coca-Cola which have the foresight to impose programs for its white employees, to be less white.

When there’s a challenge in front of me, I actually do strive to find the right answer, particularly something related to numbers. I will collaborate on occasion, but most of the time I prefer to figure out things for myself, aided by the “all-knowing” Internet.

Am I arrogant, oppressive,  defensive, or ignorant? No one has ever brought this up. Being white, however, I guess I can’t help it! I don’t seek to inhibit the success of others, but I’m now informed that by virtue of my skin color I am detrimental to society. Mea culpa!

The Anti-Racist Racists

With Coca-Cola and other organizations teaching white people to be less white, I’m wondering, will the sequel be how Asians can be less yellow and Indians can be less brown? In America, both groups seem to excel academically. Perhaps only domineering Caucasians, particularly 60+ white males like me, however, are the ones upsetting the apple cart all over society.

Was I given a free pass for the last 40 years? I mean, all the while nobody mentioned my whiteness as a social and cultural problem. My black friends from Little League, high school, various hiking groups, and other groups around town haven’t said squat. So, up ’til now, presumably, I was doing okay. Perhaps they’ve merely been nice to me while whispering behind my back.

Heeding the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I thought our common goal was to live in harmony and to reach a state of color blindness where people were judged by the content of their character and not by their skin color. Hmmm…  I guess that is no longer in play.

I’m wondering, what would MLK conclude about today? Would he speak up against the propensity of the Left to define everybody else by class, sex, or race? Would he be opposed to pitting young against old, rich against poor, black against white, rural against urban, male against female, and all the other phony dichotomies that the Left relentlessly promulgates each day?

Absurd From the Get-Go

Imagine the unending uproar if someone drew up a list of how hundreds of millions of black people all over the world could become “less black.” The  absurdity of regarding all white people, hundreds of millions of them, as having a general set of characteristics, let alone having those characteristics be detrimental to society, is the grand facade of the ages.

How long will “woke” organizations maintain this illusion? Have they been coerced to the point where they’re afraid to say, “This is ridiculous, and needs to stop now”? [Actually, they have been coerced.] Will decades pass before we see the end of this malarkey?

I do not apologize for being a white person, just as no person of color has to apologize for their ethnic background, skin color, race, or religion. If you’re a good citizen who respects the rights of others, that, my friend, is sufficient.

Morgan Freeman, who played God in the movie Bruce Almighty, wishes we would do away with Black History month and merely have history. Freeman also wants us to stop regarding individuals as black and white and simply let people be people. Amen to that.

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Life

Finding Meaning in Daily Activities, Even Now

You are creating your life every day; every choice you make determines the quality of your life

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If you’re like me, each day you shudder to think what new, nation-destroying ploy, or blunder, the Biden administration will foist upon us next. In our own lives, nevertheless, while awaiting November 2022 and the chance to take back the Senate and House, we have the opportunity to find meaning nearly each day.

In her book, My Grandfather’s Blessings, Rachel Remen tells a story about a doctor who had to deliver a baby in the hallway of the emergency room area. He had delivered other babies but not like this. While swabbing the baby’s face, she opened her eyes and looked right at him: he was the first person she had ever seen.

This experience changed the doctor’s way of proceeding. He regarded this as sacred moment. He remembered why he chose this line of work. He felt validated. His cynicism fell away. He became more invigorated, more inspired, and started to interact with more of his patients and his co-workers. Soon, he was invited to events he had never participated in before. His whole world opened up.

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Now, he seeks such moments constantly.

A Capacity that Builds

Finding meaning is a capacity that we build, like a muscle. When you first started in your current career position, finding meaning was not an issue. You were excited. There was so much you wanted to do. You had all kinds of plan. Then, years passed.

Little by little you became jaded perhaps. Why did I choose this line of work? Why can’t I find competent help? Why are customer or clients so demanding?

It is possible, even now in this time of turmoil, to reinvent yourself on the job, to rediscover what initially attracted you to this profession and what the current possibilities might be. Sometimes the re-awakening is triggered by attending a conference or convention, taking a course, reading a vital book, or spending time with a colleague or peer.

Goodbye to Yesterday

Today and the days that follow do not have to be extensions of what came before. You do not have to proceed into the future looking through a rear view mirror. A world of choices awaits, even if in the same old position you’ve been holding down for years.

Will you make new choices? And what will drive those choices?

Discovering or rediscovering meaning is about getting clear on what’s most important to you and aligning your choices with those priorities. It’s about living and working with intention instead of operating on autopilot or by default, where one day looks exactly like the next.

So, What Matters Right Now?

Start by identifying what’s most important to you …today, not what was important five, ten, or 20 years. Is it creativity, or perhaps collaboration? Maybe it’s impact or flexibility?

Next, identify what professional – and this might be different than your current profession! – and personal goals align with those priorities. What does living or working more creativity look like? If, say, collaboration matters to you, how can you incorporate more collaboration into the work you do?

From here, you’ll want to pinpoint actions or choices that support those goals. Where are your current choices in or out of alignment with what you’ve identified as most important? What new, more intentional choices can you make?

Each and Every Day

Consider this: You are creating your life every day. Every choice you make, action or inaction, determines the quality of your life. If not now, when: Making the choice to live and work with intention and in alignment is the key to cultivating a life of meaning and fulfillment.

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