Nordstrom Culture

Last week, I had dinner with my friend, colleague, and mentor, Keith Blevens. Among the topics we covered was a team I’m working with whose coaches decided to eliminate prescribed goals, codes of conduct, or expectations of any kind. I mentioned that the behavior of the players on the team, both on and off the field, had been effortlessly transformed for the better. Upon hearing this news, Keith smiled and then, seemingly out of nowhere, asked me, “Have you ever shopped at Nordstrom before?”

I responded, “Yep, couple times a year. In fact, it’s the only clothing store I go to. But what’s that got to do with the team I’m talking about?”

“Stay with me and you’ll see. What kind of service do you receive when you go to Nordstrom?”

“Hmm, come to think of it, it’s always courteous and accommodating. Their salespeople really hustle, too.”

“Why do you think that is?”

“No way. You’re kidding. Of course!”

Turns out Nordstrom doesn’t train its employees at all. They don’t preach culture. They don’t preach hard work. They don’t preach expectations. They don’t preach anything but good judgment (and I’m not sure “preach” even fits with the last one). To illustrate, here’s Nordstrom spokesperson Tara Darrow when asked about her company’s lack of focus on culture:

We don’t have a thick manual telling our employees what they can and cannot do . . . we just ask them to use good judgment in all situations. We hope this philosophy not only empowers employees to provide the highest level of service to our customers, but also inspires them and helps build a great workplace.”

How brilliant.

This week’s message is as fundamental as it gets: The more human beings fill their minds with information, strategy, techniques, or how-to’s, the less chance they have of living up to their God-given potential. Adopting someone else’s idea of how to behave, or what action steps are right or wrong, obstructs clarity, passion, realness, and love. Sure, in the arenas of leadership and motivation, culture is the hot new buzzword. But, sadly, many leaders are attempting to instill (in others) their personal opinion of what the culture of his or her organization should be. That’s called programming or indoctrination. It’s outside-in 101 and simply cannot work for the better.

Nordstrom’s story, on the other hand, reveals that a productive culture is an effect—of refusing to demand even the slightest bit of conformity from employees—not a cause. Their leadership grasps that human beings thrive from inside to out, 100 percent of the time.

Do you want to foster the wisdom that rests within your players, clients, students, family members, or friends? Well, if you ask them to believe in, and employ, your own vision of what it takes to excel—you can’t.

My Dilemma and Yours

This week, I write to my students, clients, and colleagues. If that’s not you, read on anyway. A takeaway or two is waiting. G

I admit it. At times, I blame my upsets on those experts in the fields of self-help, mental coaching, and psychology who propagate this dual misunderstanding (the outside-in misunderstanding):

  1. Something external—the past, the future, someone else, oneself, money, a ten-foot putt—can cause a person to feel a certain way (e.g., fearful or insecure).
  2. Coping techniques, tools, or behavioral changes can help a person overcome #1.

Neither is true. Thus, my dilemma: Although their methods are woefully inefficient, as they virtually ignore the psychological immune system that all human beings possess, I don’t deem it valuable to alienate or write off these experts. Those who dedicate their lives to helping others are a-okay with me. Every person is a beacon of truth.

So, then, how can I—or better yet, how can those of us who strictly teach the inside-out understanding—help more conventional experts see past years of outside-in training and methodology so they can better serve others? Clearly, an “us versus them” mentality is not productive. And, frankly, it’s occurring more and more as of late.

Well, here’s how the answer looks to me. It’s basic, and I hope it’s useful to you: We must practice what we preach. It’s you and I who must wake up to the fact that our feelings are not connected to this sometimes serious-looking dilemma. These experts, and the direction they point, are not responsible for our upsets.

Indeed, when this principle is crystal clear in my own mind, wisdom takes over and, in deliberations with these experts, I neither alienate nor back down. I get my point across without ruffling feathers. I might pose a “what if it actually works this way” type of question, subtly (yet resolutely) pointing in the opposite direction. Or I might simply hold my fire, refusing to stoop down and retaliate, amid one of their attacks. Either way, these examples are a far cry from those moments when, in a desperate effort to change the minds of others (or my own feelings), I attempt to one-up them. Then, I serve no one and get nowhere. And it’s me, not them, who obstructs the dissemination of the inside-out understanding that’s essential to the world’s well-being.

No one—not me, not you—can overcome an injustice and take it personally, or blame our feelings on it, at the same time. In fact, it’s never the uninformed who stall evolution. It’s those who think they have a clue and, far too often, look down on the innocent ignorance of others. Truth be told, I was once the most outside-in person on the planet. I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I was serving.

Remember: Every person alive is doing his or her best, what looks to be the right thing at that moment in time. Today, when I overlook this reminder—get outside-in about inside-out—I help move the needle of consciousness and love backward. When I wake up to it, I help move the needle forward. And, my friends, it works the same for you.

Free Will?

Man, did last week’s article ( create a stir—at least in my inbox. You guys either loved the direction I pointed or thought it was crazy. To be specific on the crazy, most disagreement revolved around the question of free will. One of you said: “You can’t tell me that human beings don’t have the free will to make choices for themselves, that’s just foolish!”

So, to clarify, here’s how it looks to me—and this realization has proven both liberating and valuable for those with whom I work: There is no actual separation between free will and God’s will. You don’t make some choices while God (the universal intelligence I mentioned last week) makes others. They merely appear separate because certain choices, such as the decision of whether or not to go to the gym, often involve some intellectual wrangling, while others, such as the decision to snag a ball out of thin air, occur instantaneously.

In other words, a universal intelligence doesn’t rest above you; it rests within you. And the deeper you grasp this spiritual principle, the less time you’ll spend intellectually grinding over choices and the more instinctive and energetic you’ll feel. In fact, experience tells me that those who think they’re separate from God, think they live under the personal obligation of choice, or think they’re in control (of anything) are among the most stressed out souls alive.

The bottom line is that free will has little to do with choice. It’s simply a concept derived from the truth that you, or your will, are free from the influence of others (the outside) and only guided by God (the inside). Besides, trying to make choices is both impossible and mind bending. That’s why, if you want to be at your best, serve others, or thrive, understanding that a spiritual guide rests within is always better than attempting to manually grab the wheel.

The Heart of Choice

Note: Consider the direction this article points and, whether you agree or not, see what implications occur to you. As always, feel free to reach out with comments, insights, or questions. G

Simply peruse your favorite social-media sites and you’re likely to come across some version of the following statement:

Happiness, confidence, and a positive mindset are a choice!

In fact, in the area of self-development, the theory that human beings can choose their moods, or even their ice cream flavors, runs rampant. Trouble is: It’s simply not true. Sure, it often seems like you own the personal power of choice. But, in my mind, you’ve never made a deliberate decision in your life. Rather, there’s a universal intelligence at work behind the scenes, guiding and orchestrating—everything.

Here’s an illustration, using ice cream again, of this spiritual principle: If asked to make the choice between vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, I go for vanilla. Why? I honestly don’t know. I didn’t wake up one day and deliberately decide to prefer vanilla. I just do. So, while it seems as if I’m making a choice, the choice of vanilla ice cream has actually been made for me.

Same goes for mindsets. The reason you can’t choose a good mood all of the time is: You’re never able to choose a good mood. It just looks like you can—when the spiritual energy that chooses (controls and guides) your mood becomes unstuck and starts to flow, that is.

One more thing about the illusion of deliberate choice: Because trying to make choices (as with any illusion or mistruth) is clutter provoking and psychologically taxing, not trying to will remove an enormous burden from your shoulders. It will fortify intuition, ease, enthusiasm, and love. However, if you’re still convinced that decisions are up to you; if you’re still convinced that revelations are indeed manmade; if you’re still convinced that free will means your personal will—no worries. At the right place and time, you’re destined to stop blowing the sails and let the wind do its thing.

After all, am I choosing to move my hands on the keyboard now as I type? Am I choosing the words from my mind to the screen? Are you deliberately choosing to read them? I suppose it might look that way from the outside, but when you get right down to the heart of choice, the answer has to be no.

Transcending the Personal – a 5 day retreat in Spain

Transcending the personalTranscending the Personal

A five day retreat in Spain.
8th – 12th June 2017

Only one thing stands in the way of living a mentally and spiritually healthy life filled with peace, love and wisdom: the personal ego and the fear it breeds. It is behind all our problems, difficulties and issues and is usually the most difficult thing we bump up against in our lives. No matter how much we understand the Three Principles it seems to rear its head again and again, and we keep getting tricked. The purpose of this retreat is to explore how to get it out of our way, and to see what happens to us when we are able to transcend it.

However, because consciousness makes the ego and fear look and feel so real, it is not so easy to extract ourselves from the “reality” of it or to see our way through it. This takes deeper exploration. The answer does not lie in trying to change our thinking, or in “figuring out”, or in getting to the root of where it comes from, or in stating the mantra, “There is no ‘I’”; the answer lies in truly transcending it. But what does transcending the personal really mean?  And how can we help it happen, when it does look and feel so real? This is the direction our exploration will take in our first retreat.

For some of us it will be enough to see it more deeply for ourselves. For practitioners who attend we will also explore how transcending the personal impacts the effectiveness of our work with others.

Who is it for?

Anybody who already has some understanding of the Three Principles and would like to gain the benefits listed below.

What are the Benefits of Attending this retreat?

  • gain a deeper understanding of what “the personal” really means and how it and the fear it breeds is the only thing standing in our way of living in a state of peace and love
  • more deeply explore the varying aspects of the personal and how subtly and insidiously it works within us all, even when we understand the Principles
  • gain a deeper understanding of what “transcending” really means, what we are transcending to
  • become better able to deeply listen to what our personal blocks are saying to us and to
  • become better able to help ourselves and others see through the personal blocks standing in our and others’ way, deeply listen to wisdom and see how to transcend them via the spiritual


Booking Now Open via Eventbrite.

Note there is also also an event for those who want to help others Transcend the Personal – suitable for coaches.

Both retreats will be facilitated by Gabriela Maldonado-Montano & Dr Jack Pransky

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