Quix Tip: The Origins of a Gift

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“The most perfectly balanced gyroscope slowly winds down. But when the gift passes out of sight and then returns, we are enlivened.”

- Lewis Hyde

Think of a person or something that has influenced you positively, whether a teacher, book, co-worker, song, family member, movie or friend and trace back their gift. Who or what influenced them? No gift lives in a vacuum. For a musical example, let’s look at jazz-guitarist George Benson, someone who has been extremely musically influential. His soloing style is influenced by jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery. When Wes Montgomery was starting out, he was hired because he could play the solos of jazz guitar pioneer Charlie Christian note-for-note. And so it goes.

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Quix Tip: Surrounded by Gifts

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What gifts can you surround yourself with to give you the energy you need to create, do good work, and best give your gift? It may be a piece of art, music, the picture of someone who inspires you, a flower, a note, a conversation. Whatever small gifts you can surround yourself with will support you on your quest.

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Air of November by Denise Levertov (pocket poem)

Air of November
by Denise Levertov

In the autumn brilliance
feathers tingle at fingertips.

This tingling brilliance
burns under cover of gray air and

brown lazily
unfalling leaves,

it eats into stillness zestfully
with sound of plucked strings,

steel and brass strings of the zither,
copper and silver wire

played with a gold ring,
a plucking of crinkled afternoons and

evenings of energy, thorns under the pot.
In the autumn brilliance

a drawing apart of curtains
a fall of veils

a flying open of doors, convergence
of magic objects into
feathered hands and crested heads, a prospect
of winter verve, a buildup to abundance.

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Two Minutes of Nature (guest post by Laura Herbert)

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Two Minutes of Nature
by Laura Herbert

The work day is over, and I just looked up from my computer and found myself strangely startled by how beautiful it is out. It’s amazing how detached I can feel from nature while I’m “plugged in”, clicking away at my computer keyboard. But all it takes is two minutes of observation to bring me back to feeling more centered and connected with reality. Here’s what I just noticed:

  • The magical, golden evening sunlight streaming through the trees
  • A Daddy Long Legs striding confidently across the patio
  • An inch worm slowly making its way across a stone wall
  • A bumble bee hovering over the miniature forest of creeping thyme
  • The first red tinges of autumn on the maples, glowing fiercely in the sun
  • The warm golds and auburns of the garden mums
  • The soft greens of the ferns
  • The sweet song of evening crickets and one very vocal chipmunk
  • I especially love observing the small, the overlooked, and what some would consider to be the “commonplace.” They are all miracles of nature, after all.

What can you observe in two minutes?

The deeper we look into nature, the more we recognize that it is full of life, and the more profoundly we know that all life is a secret and that we are united with all life that is in nature. – Albert Schweitzer

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Quix Tip: Giving to Yourself

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What small graces can you allow yourself today? Each small gift you give yourself has the seed to be a larger gift to those around you. When Walt Whitman spoke of being alone out on the road, he remembered all those he knew and said, “I am filled with them and will fill them in return.”

Research shows that only two in ten people spend most of a typical day playing to their strengths. Yet Marcus Buckingham points out that research also shows that those lucky people “are significantly more productive, more customer focused, and more likely to stick around than the rest of us.” When you live a strong life, doing what you uniquely enjoy, you experience contentment. And that contentment is a gift to all those around you. This is one reason why people have pets – a cat purring contentment when curled up on a couch is a soothing gift. And when you live your unique life, following the path that was meant only for you, you inspire those near you to do the same, to examine and explore their gifts.

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities:

StrengthsFinder – Gallup’s online assessment of unique top five strengths. Learn your team’s strengths and learn how to put them into action.
Strengths At Work – Gallup research says less than 20 percent of us have the opportunity to do what we do best everyday. Learn how to put your strengths in play for consistent, near-perfect performance.
At Your Best – Explore how to give your best and play to your strengths for sustained individual success.

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Adjusting the Focus on Your Lens

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Imagine the focus of your attention throughout any given day as a lens. It’s usually adjusted at a very limited view – immediate concerns, people around you, co-workers, projects, everyday interactions. We find it difficult to get deeper in ourselves and also to see with a wider lens the people we don’t know in our community, and further out – to other countries.

Your giving will be most effective when you give in a way that most uniquely reflects you. What are you interested in? Where do you feel is the most need? There are no rules, there is no guidebook – you have to find your own way in all areas of your life, including giving. When you read the stories of famous people who gave so much, from Ghandi to Mother Theresa to Nelson Mandela, they all found the way to give that suited them.

Whether you are drawn to philanthropy or volunteering or the myriad small daily acts through which you can give, or a combination, consider your unique style – what strengthens you when you contemplate giving, what gets you exhausted just thinking about it when giving? Now you know where to focus your energy. Let’s look at two potential avenues for that giving energy: volunteering and philanthropy.

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s charity-based team building activities:

Charity Bike BuildAs featured on NPR!

Teams build bicycles for underserved children in their area.

Charity Wheelchair Build – Charity Wheelchair Build gets your team building wheelchairs to help disabled people stay independent in this charity team building activity.

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Charity Begins at Home

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Let’s look at the phrase “charity begins at home” in two ways. First, giving to others begins with giving to yourself. You can’t fill anyone’s cup from an empty bottle. Just like the emergency instructions on an airplane, you have to put on your own mask and get oxygen first before assisting others. Some of us are uncomfortable with this concept, worried about appearing selfish. Perhaps a better word to use in this case is ‘self-filled.’ You fill yourself in order to give to others. And that means finding out what you love, what strengthens you, what you do best and putting it into play in your life. This advice is especially helpful for people on the edge of burn-out working in non-profits, where giving is the norm, and resources are perennially scarce. When you have enough you can most articulately, elegantly and effectively give to others.

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The Daily Difference

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Each moment of each day affords us an opportunity to give – the question is how to take them. Each interaction we have with friends, colleagues, family members, and strangers has the potential for giving. In this case, it’s helpful to get away from the idea of a literal physical gift. Each positive interaction we have, each shared smile or courtesy enriches everyone involved. Loretta Girzartis said, “If someone listens, or stretches out a hand, or whispers a kind word of encouragement, or attempts to understand a lonely person, extraordinary things begin to happen.” And these extraordinary things all come from otherwise ordinary moments on an ordinary day.

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Top 5 Reasons Why People Give

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  1. Because they are asked, or presented a giving opportunity
  2. Compassion for those in need
  3. Personally believe in the cause
  4. Affected by the cause
  5. To give back to their community

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s charity-based team building activities:
Charity Bike BuildAs featured on NPR! - Teams build bicycles for underserved children in their area.Charity Wheelchair Build – Charity Wheelchair Build gets your team building wheelchairs to help disabled people stay independent in this charity team building activity.

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Books to Support Your 40 Days To Change For Good

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Books to Support Your 40 Days To Change For Good

Changing for Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward by James O. Prochaska, John Norcross, and Carlo DiClemente
[Still the most useful and easily applicable book on personal change I’ve found yet. Highly recommended.]

Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own And Other People’s Minds (Leadership for the Common Good) by Howard Gardner
[Great research as to what makes people change their minds, and what doesn’t work. This work is one of the cornerstones of Quixote Consulting’s change and influencing work. Be forewarned: It’s very dry and dense] 

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
[A well-researched, readable look at the positive psychology of persistence.]

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey
[Endlessly inspiring and entertaining, here are 161 famous creative artists’ rituals – from Mozart to Einstein]

The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity At Work by Teresa Amabile, Steven Kramer
[Completely in a work context. Repeated small successes combined with meaningful work lead to happiness. Small failures at meaningful work lead to unhappiness. Meaningless work is a straight path to unhappiness.]

Gandhi An Autobiography – The Story of My Experiments with the Truth by Mahatma Gandhi
[Surprisingly, it’s a page-turner. A fascinating and inspiring account of a man dedicated to personal change and through that his country and beyond]

The Power of Full Engagement by Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr
[The ‘Taking Action: The Power of Positive Rituals’ chapter is a very nuts and bolts look at rituals and incremental change.]

What You Can Change . . . and What You Can’t: The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement by Martin E. Seligman
[Especially recommended for those of you who like to know what the research has to say. There’s no self-help ‘Seven steps to lose those pounds, be loved by everyone and transform your life in just 20 seconds a day!” silliness here, just what science has found can be changed and what can’t.]

The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief by Francis Weller
[Profoundly helpful and beautifully written, the title says it all. You’ll either know immediately it’s the book you need to read right now or you’re not ready for it…yet. Loss and sadness are either visiting you or they’re not. The chapter on ritual is from a spiritual/mythopoetic view.]

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
[Written from a journalistic viewpoint, it’s heavy on stories and light on actionable content. Three sections: individuals, organizations, societies]

Leading Change by John P. Kotter
[Exclusively aimed at change leaders in organizations, but the general principles are sound.]

Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar
[You’ll find a short section on rituals and negative (a ritual to NOT do something) rituals – which is an interesting concept]

 

Learn more about 40 Days to Change For Good here.

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