The Power of Being Present

Last week, my sister and I went into the town of Pittsford, NY to the Ben & Jerry’s store for some ice cream on a beautiful Friday night. The excruciating decision between Karamel Sutra or Imagine Whirled Peace almost doing me in, it was a relief to get my ice cream and head outside to sit on a bench.

Shortly thereafter, a little girl about 5 or 6, her brother and parents head out of the store with their ice cream. They sit down on the curbside near my bench. As the family is enjoying the ice cream, the little girl asks her parents “Why do they call it Mango, Mango Sorbet?”

“Because it’s made with Mangoes” her father replies somewhat impatiently.

“Then how come it isn’t called Mango Sorbet? Why Mango, MANGO Sorbet?”

At this point, my sister and I are laughing at the reasonable questioning of this little girl. Her parents went on with their conversation. This wasn’t the first or last amusing thing this little girl came up with but her parents seemed too preoccupied to notice.

I mentioned to my sister that it’s sad that many parents seem too busy, distracted, or just plain tired to appreciate some of the things their children come up with. My sister – having raised four children all two years apart from each other – replied “that’s just the way it is.”

That answer left me, and still has me, bothered. It’s not that I am blaming the parents for doing anything wrong or different than the rest of us do. It’s just that I thought it was sad. This little girl couldn’t have been cuter or more entertaining but her parents’ conversation took precedence. And from what I could hear (okay, eavesdrop) it had to do with gas prices!

The worldwide webcast of Eckart Tolle and Oprah (from Tolle’s book The New Earth) had as one of its themes “being present”. While watching these webcasts, I realized how much of our time is spent in the past or future – but rarely in the present.

Just monitor your thoughts and conversation for an hour. See how much of the time you are truly present. It’s not necessarily negative or positive thoughts but sometimes just neutral thoughts that take us out of the present.

In Yoga some weeks when I am supposed to be meditating – I’m off making a grocery list in my head. “Don’t forget the strawberries, oh and get some milk”.

As the aunt to 10 nieces and nephews and 5 great nieces and nephews (and one on the way!!!), I have done a lot, A LOT, of babysitting in my life. One thing I always noticed was that the only time the kids misbehaved was when I wasn’t paying attention to them. If they had my attention, there was no reason for them to act up.

But as soon as I was on the phone with a friend or watching something on TV, all hell would break loose. Now when I see children acting up, I look to see what the parents are doing. Every time, the parent is distracted and not paying attention to the child.

Am I saying that children should be the center of a parent’s attention every single minute of every day? No, because that would be unrealistic and impossible. There is work and chores and other things that have to get done. But I would wager to say that many parents would admit to rarely being completely present with their children and therefore, not enjoying their children as often as they would like to.

The next time your child is annoying you, stop and think about what you’re doing and if you were to redirect your attention to them, even for a short time, would they calm down?

If you’ve ever seen the show “Super Nanny” one of the first things the Nanny encourages parents to do is to set up a schedule for the home. Included on this schedule are specific times for each parent to spend some quality time with each child with no distractions. Play time. The beautiful thing is that when we are truly playing – guess what – we’re in the present.

Whether you have children or not, look for opportunities to be completely present with those around you.

Birthday Present

It was my birthday and as expected I got a call from Ashay saying Happy Birthday to me. I always wonder how he can remember so many birthdays. Everyone receives his phone call for birthdays and anniversaries.

I must accept that I cannot remember birthdays of people except some near and dear ones. How can somebody remember all the birthdays of all the people you meet? This was a mystery for me for many years, until this year. This year I decided to ask Ashay the secret of his memory.

“Hello Ashay,” I called him, “Can I ask you one question?”

“Yes why not?” said he.

“How can you remember so many dates so perfectly?” I asked, “I have heard many people say that Ashay wished me, and he almost remembers all the dates for his friends and family.” My curiosity was pouring out of my words.

“Friend, you will have to come down to my place to know the secret,” he said.

“Do you mean you have a secret?” I was amazed with the answer and also got relieved that Ashay must have something which I can also acquire. “Are you free now? Can I come right away?” I couldn’t stop but to ask him this with impatience.

“Certainly friend, come over, we will have a cup of coffee while I show you my secret,” Ashay said and we hung the phone.

I was more than happy as I finally asked him how he manages remembering so many dates. Now I was on my way to learn something, or maybe get something by which he does this fabulous thing.

I rang the door bell to find Ashay opening the front door. “So where is the magic lamp you posses, which gave you so much magical powers Ashay?” I asked with curiosity.

“This is no magic friend,” he said smiling mischievously and took me to the wall where a calendar was hung. He pointed towards that calendar and asked me to observe it.

It was a calendar dated 1998. Old calendar indeed. It was having current month set. I could see all the dates with names on them. There was today’s date with my name on it. Wow Ashay had maintained a calendar since 1998 with names on the birthday dates. What a simple journal to maintain. I was really amazed with the trick he was following since so many years. There were almost most of the dates filled with names. Some dates were having two names joined with equal to symbol.

“What is the equal to symbol Ashay?” I asked.

“Simple”, said he, “Those are the anniversary dates with two names joined with an equal sign.”

“One question?” I interrupted him.

“Yes.”

“There are too many names on this calendar. Do you really call all of them?”

“No, man,” he explained, “Some are very far now, some have lost the contact. This journal just reminds me of the birthdays and anniversaries of current month. I choose who to call. So the names still in contact and in good faith are chosen to be called.”

“And you know what”, he continued with enthusiasm, “This journal also reminds me all the names I was in contact with some day or other and also helps me remember and find our past friendships.”

What a simple thing to do and yet so powerful I thought after seeing this. The coffee was good. I was imagining the power I will possess just by maintaining such a calendar journal with me. All my friends and relatives will be so happy when I will call them on their important dates. The thought itself made me happy and this was a great birthday present for me from Ashay this year.

Buying and Selling Automobile Dealerships – Axioms When Negotiating

Buying and Selling Automobile Dealerships – Axioms When Negotiating the Contract

No two negotiations are alike and in the art of negotiations there are no fixed responses; there are only basic rules that are to be adapted according to each circumstance and basic duties that formulate the boundaries of hyperbole. The basic duties when negotiating are discussed in another article. The basic rules of negotiating are as follows:

(1) Be prepared. Axiom 1: Do your homework.

(2) Identify your objective ahead of time and when you reach it, STOP. Many times I have seen lawyers that have won their cases keep talking until they have talked the judge into ruling for the other side. During negotiations, many dealers who have found what they were looking for, have lost the deal because they tried to sweeten-the-pot one too many times. Axiom 2: Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.

(3) Always keep your objective in mind when negotiating and do not get sidetracked on meaningless issues. The negotiator is not at the negotiation table to win a debate or to teach someone a lesson. The most successful negotiator does not bicker. Axiom 3: Keep your eye on the doughnut and not the hole.

(4) Answer only what you are asked and only to the extent to which you are asked. Do not anticipate what the other side wants to know. You are not there to educate them, or to impress them with your knowledge. For example, if asked when you were born, you do not have to volunteer location and lineage. Axiom 4: It is usually what you say, not what you hear that hurts you.

(5) Do not volunteer to immediately relinquish any written documentation that you have researched and prepared, if the other side will settle for it being mailed at a later date. Axiom 5: If something was not originally written for publication, always re-read it with the idea of publication in mind before you release it. Axiom 5a: Don’t give away free information.

(6) Outline the other side’s position and concessions and have them initial the paper before leaving the negotiation session and give them a copy. Axiom 6: Faded ink is clearer than the sharpest memory.

(7) Do not feel pressured. There is nothing the other side can do to embarrass you into an agreement. Axiom 7: If you do make a mistake, 99.9% of the world will never know or care.

(8) Do not get emotional unless it is an act — and then, only get emotional if you have previously won an award for “Best Acting”. Axiom 8: The most skilled negotiator never loses control.

(9) Do not be afraid to be self-deprecating, if that’s what it takes to get the job done. There is an old story about the fur salesman who came to work one day, only to find that, during the night, the cat had peed on the furs. Later, when a customer was trying on a coat, she told the salesman that the coat smelled like pee. The salesman responded that it was not the coat she that smelled; but that a cat had peed on his jacket. Axiom 9: Sometimes you have to pee on yourself to get the job done.

(10) Every deal has key elements (such as the offer, acceptance, consideration, and time of performance), have your checklist and be sure to cover all of the elements. Do not walk away thinking you have an agreement when in fact you do not. Axiom 10: A sale is completed only after the check clears and the buyer has legal title to the assets.

(11) Do not lie. Axiom 11: It is better to say nothing, than to lie.

(12) Do not make concessions unless you have thought them through while away from the pressures of the negotiating table. There is nothing wrong with saying: “That sounds reasonable; let me check one thing.” or “That sounds reasonable, let’s take a break for a few minutes and mull it over.”

(13) No matter how ridiculous other party’s arguments may be, put your self in their shoes and walk them through. At best, you might find their arguments have some merit and at worse you will better understand what drives the other person.

(14) Always conduct yourself as a gentleman, or a lady. The loud mouth may dominate the conversation, but the gentleman or lady, controls it. Axiom 12: The most proficient negotiator is not the loud mouth.

(15) When negotiations are finished and you going home do not be tempted to pat yourself on the back; try to think of what you gave away. Axiom 13: Even a dunderhead gets lucky sometimes.

(16) There is nothing the other person can say which is binding without your consent. Axiom 14: if you hear something outrageous do not attack, negotiate.

(17) If you make someone want to do something for you, they will help you find a way.

(18) The “Real Buyer” calls nearly every day. The prospect that creates more than two unwarranted delays is probably not a real prospect. Axiom 15: Do not confuse sincerity with a “soft touch.”

(19) Negotiating with one prospect at a time is a mistake. Axiom 16: The first real buyer to the table with a contract and a check wins. Axiom 16a: The “real” buyer isn’t always the one with the highest bid.

(20) Real buyers have monetary limits on the amount of money they will commit to a deal. Axiom 17: People who say they have no monetary limit are almost always not serious buyers.

(21) To succeed, keep the initiative. Negotiation is a business, not a game. Axiom 18: Due diligence is a sign of professionalism, not of weakness.

(22) Be as careful near completion, as you were at the beginning. Axiom 19: Many a race was lost near the finish line.

(23) Take a break during the negotiations and re-read rules one through twenty-three.