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Generosity: Finding Composure Within Fear

Generosity: Finding Composure Within Fear

During a recent retreat I was leading, where the theme was “Accomplishing More By Doing Less,” one of the participants was a recently retired physics professor, whom I’ll call Michael. For the past fifteen years, Michael’s work had been his primary focus, and he generally averaged twelve-hour work days. During lunch on the second day of the three-day workshop, he asked me, “When is the theme of this workshop — how to get more done by doing less — going to become clear?” His impatience was obvious. I responded that I thought that everything we were doing in the workshop focused on ways of exploring how to do less.

When we began the next session that afternoon, I suggested to Michael and to the group that so often we can get distracted by searching for answers. Sometimes, slowing down and being generous with ourselves may create space for the right questions to emerge, often slowly, allowing us to go deeper in our lives and open doors to new ways of approaching and resolving thorny issues.

The next morning, the third and last day of the retreat, I could see tears in Michael’s eyes as he began to speak about an insight. He had come to the workshop wanting to better utilize and prioritize his time as he was leaving his busy professional life. What he came to understand, through doing less and experimenting with being generous with himself, was that what really mattered in his life at this time was healing some of the gaps in his relationships with his two grown daughters.

When you can find composure and act with clarity and resolve, right in the midst of your fears, this is a form of generosity that in Buddhism is referred to as “giving the gift of fearlessness.” I remember several years ago someone approached me after I had given a talk to an audience of several hundred people. He said that he noticed that my hands were shaking as I was speaking, yet my voice and body seemed clear and calm. I responded that this was exactly how I felt — shaky, filled with fear, and at the same time, I felt clear and calm.

Try this: Experiment with the practice of generosity. Give your attention, your caring, and your curiosity to those you live with and work with, without expecting anything in return. Take it on as an actual practice. Say yes, to yourself and to others. Notice and write about your acts of generosity as well as the generosity of others.

Related:
Real Confidence
Fear Less
Practicing Generosity

Adapted from LESS: Accomplishing More By Doing Less

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Marc Lesser

Marc Lesser is CEO of ZBA Associates LLC, a company providing executive coaching, leadership development consulting, and keynote speaking services to businesses and non-profits. He is a developer and instructor of Google’s Search Inside Yourself program. Marc is a Zen teacher with an MBA degree and a former resident of the San Francisco Zen Center for 10 years. He is the author of Less: Accomplishing More By Doing Less and Z.B.A. Zen of Business Administration.

47 comments

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10:36PM PDT on Aug 15, 2013

ty

9:00PM PDT on Aug 16, 2012

good to consider

12:46AM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

Thank you for this article.

12:19AM PDT on Nov 6, 2011

When you realize that you were born & are still a Perfect Human Specimen, you give yourself acceptance. be kind to yourself. Know you are a perfect energy full of love and kindness. Be it, claim it, then share it.

12:53PM PST on Jan 8, 2011

thank you :)

4:43PM PST on Dec 15, 2010

I also wanted to add, id do no how to 'smell the roses' a lot of people dont. But thats wot fears me to . Whenu really look at everything in the world it a work of art, beautiful this world, and no one realises it and they just want wars all the time. Its so so sad . All the little creatures , insects, animals and mankind that make this truly beautiful world, just look at it from otter space, the globe, the orb, Earth. -sublime. wonderful .

4:39PM PST on Dec 15, 2010

great article . I tto suffer wiv terrible anxiety , depresion and panic attacks I dont breath proply im told and yet i just cant correct it, have tried its so hard. i cant relax at all and at this time of year its worse.

8:52PM PST on Dec 14, 2010

Beautiful article and very timely for me. I've just survived repeated anxiety attacks, fear of pain and helplessness and extensive worry about not being able to meet my work demands. I decided to prioritize my health and to take a few days off. In this time, I'm making effort to be nice to my family, contact my friends and show my caring, thinking and learning about natural therapies which may help me, meditation, gentle yoga, gardening and watching ants making their path along my verandah. And I feel like I'm accomplishing more than if I buried myself in work, hours and days would pass bringing little satisfaction and possibly high distress. Shame that this time out will have to end soon.

10:23AM PST on Dec 14, 2010

thanks

10:33PM PST on Dec 13, 2010

thanks for sharing.

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