Lead Your Life

Awake, Aligned, and Grounded In Truth

No SMART Goals? June 7, 2016

I will admit – I am a goal junkie.  It’s borderline problematic as I am a bit too enthusiastic about creating outcomes I can measure, and sigh….  picking a deadline that inspires me to rattle and roll.

It’s taken me the better part of my life (4.5 decades in exactly 3 days) to realize; however, that achievement and success are the best of friends but they are from different families of origin.  In fact, much like you can live a fulfilled life during long absences from your best friend, so can success when achievement is on an Alaskan Cruise.  And yes… I know that achievement cannot actually board a cruise ship but this sounds much more elegant than saying “when achievement succumbs to failure’s sword.”

Imagine a day of complete and utter failure.  Every goal missed.  Every attempt thwarted.  Can you count this one as a success?

I believe yes, if you have appropriately tuned your definition of success.

To me, success lives at the intersection of authenticity, purpose, and contribution.  It’s the YES! when I can audit my outcome and know that I made a meaningful impact to the vision by stretching myself, challenging the status quo, and giving the best I have to offer without compromising my spirit. 

And “tuning” your success radar is more than pretty descriptive words that intellectualize the concept.  It requires that we drop this definition into our heart and soul; feeling it deeply.  That we are inspired by the intent & fulfilled by the effort.  If these two conditions exist, the outcome is whipped cream and a cherry.

I am not excusing poor results.  I am simply suggesting that there is more to success than results.  If we have truly aligned our efforts with our passion and talent, the results come.  However, we are successful because we lived & worked from a place of authenticity, courageous effort, and a willingness to try again even when facing the sword of failure.

PS… In a world that launches fireworks for first place and gives everyone a snow cone win or lose, taking time to teach our children the true definition of success has never been more important.

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Be careful what you claim June 2, 2016

Yesterday, a lovely woman said to me, “My anxiety is very bad right now.”

Seems harmless enough, yes?  And anxiety (or fear or depression or any other feeling that drains your energy) is not bad.  There is no shame in a racing heart or heaviness of mood.  In fact, if we believe that the world moves in harmonized order, we accept that day is followed by night and winter follows summer & fall.  If we believe that the universe modulates itself; gently flowing across a continuum of expressions, we can trust that our own emotional continuum is as natural as the movement of the planets.

Darkness in our life is a great teacher; giving us the sacred opportunity to turn inward to quiet space & deep knowing so that we may see again the magnificence of what we cannot intellectualize.  So that we may, perhaps even because we’ve run out of options, trust the divine.

One of my favorite teachings is this:  “Suffering happens when we make the impermanent permanent.”

In the moment, we experience life.  We feel sadness, joy, impatience, peace.  And then that moment passes, and we are presented with a new moment in which we can be fully present or we can stay locked in the past.  When we stay locked, our bodies are alone in the present moment because our minds are still reliving what has already ended.

Thoughts are sticky.   It takes intention to clear our minds of what was to make room for what is.  Negative emotions are even stickier.  They love to cling & grasp to your consciousness.  They can become so familiar that we develop a relationship with them; hence labeling something as “MY anxiety.”   And when we claim it as ours, it becomes part of us in a permanent, deeply integrated way.

See the difference between:  “I am currently feeling sad” versus “My depression is rearing its head.”  I believe we should welcome a full rainbow of emotions; learning from each one, feeling life deeply, and being willing to honor the light and the dark.  This is wholehearted living.  Just stay awake to what you identify as part of your DNA.  Let the impermanent be impermanent & celebrate the natural ebb and flow of your life.

 

 

Character Vs The Coveted May 4, 2016

This week, my son asked my daughter if he could borrow one of her pencils.  Not just any pencil but a mechanical pencil from her arsenal of coveted writing utensils that she purchased with her own money.  This resulted in a narrowing of the eyes and a sharp breath.  Dead silence.

Then, the slow release of an exhale followed by one simple syllable:  No.   Crestfallen, my son’s eyes welled.  The pleading ensued; matched by equally convincing stonewalling.

In steps Switzerland (aka: mom).  I prompted them to consider that, in every moment, we are building character habits.  It’s not enough to want to be someone who shares freely – we must actually do it even when its hard.  It’s not enough to want to be resilient – we must actually persevere even when we feel defeated.  It’s never about the mechanical pencil.

What is your mechanical pencil?  Is there something or someone you covet so strongly that you compromise your character for it?  Your “something” might be the need to be right (ouch), the need for control, or even your fear of failure.  Or, it might be as simple as an ego-feed object (think designer boots, luxury cars, big homes).  It could even be stress.  What?

If you find yourself talking about how busy you always are or how crazy your schedule is (this conversation is always concluded with a sigh), then perhaps you are addicted to your story of stress.  And this is your mechanical pencil.

Let me explain.  If the qualities you desire to envelope your life are peace & joy, this story of stress is competing against your character.  What are you choosing?  Just look at what you are talking about.  Are you talking about how you are creating more peace and joy or how crazy your life is?

If you desire to live a life blanketed in your faith, do your actions and words line up?  If you desire to make a difference in the lives of kids & your gift is writing, are you writing that children’s book or is fear holding you back?

Our modern world loves to distract us, and we all have our personal Goliaths lurking everywhere.  Instead of blindfolding ourselves in their presence, conceding to their strength based on their intimidating size, or worse yet, befriending them, can we all see that the choice we make in these moments have a compounding result?  That it is more than a decision about a mechanical pencil – it is a choice of character.

How did the pencil story end?  I’d like to say she had her own AHA after my profound guidance. But alas, no.  She promptly opened our junk drawer, pulled out a nub of a #2 pencil with broken lead & no eraser, handed it to her brother, and walked out of the room.  Better than nothing, but not exactly what my motherly idealism hoped for.  And in this moment, I get choose:  My parenting “value” of believing in my kids to create their own learning as they are ready or my need to control.  What will I choose?  And what will you choose when it counts?

 

The Secret Door February 24, 2016

Did you know that within you exists more wisdom than you could ever imagine?  That you have all tools you need to live a life about which you are both proud and excited; one of meaningful impact where you embody your core values in each moment, connect deeply with the present, and experience true, enduring peace.  All the while living in our nutty, hectic world in the midst of people and situations that continuously beg you to take the bait of stress, worry, and negativity?  All the while achieving goals, completing lists, and generally holding down the fort?

The gap between where you are and the possibility of that reality may seem vast, but I want you to consider the gap as your own personal quest.  This is the most important work we do in our lives:  moving towards truth & stepping into our most enlightened, peaceful, happy, fulfilled state.

You argue:  How selfish!  The work I do on “ME” cannot possibly be the most important.  I have children to raise, a spouse to love, a community to save, a job to do!  And yet, consider:  If you are stressed out, wadded up, worried, and exhausted; just how effective are you with the people you love the most and the work to which you are dedicated?  Put on your oxygen mask.

So, let’s get back to the secret door.  Through this door, you can access the wisdom for wholehearted living that exists in you.  You were not put on this planet without the tools to thrive.  You just have to learn how to find them and live them.

Begin to turn the knob and enter through the door; thus beginning a whole new quest in your life.  Don’t expect it to be easy or fast!  This is gradual, cumulative work for most of us; not a bolt of lightening.  (If it was that – we’d all take the hit once and live happily ever after).  This is work that starts with a decision.  This is work that demands you learn to tame your wild mind and step into your intuitive wisdom.  This is the work that recreates itself each day with new challenges and new opportunities.

Don’t miss the opportunity to take this quest!  The quality of your life depends on it!

 

Enough Is Enough September 30, 2011

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Did anybody else just have a childhood flashback of your mom saying “enough is enough” after you failed to heed her “gentle” guidance for the 4th time? 

We all have habits that are so deeply grooved that even though we know they have surpassed their welcome, we repeat.  And then we repeat again.  All the while we know it’s hurting us, our lives, our careers, and the companies we work for.  It’s time to say to ourselves:  Enough Is Enough.

Think you don’t have any?  Here’s a short list of examples I see leaders exhibit with obsessive clinging. 

1)      Failing to make the time to prioritize your day so your actions actually bear the fruit of DESIRED RESULTS & PROGRESS.

2)      Checking emails every 5 minutes as if you are an on-call ER doc.

3)      Getting so caught up in the daily fires that we forget to develop our people.

4)      “Skipping” our own professional development opportunities like training.

5)      Reacting and allowing stress to poison our day.

6)      Ignoring signs of poor processes, client distress, or building chaos.

7)      Blinding following leaders and being the perfect “Yes Man.”

8)      Making excuses & justifying versus uncovering, auditing, and improving. 

9)      Going weeks on end without looking at your strategic plan, vision, and goals.

10)   Entering conversations and meetings without an intention and desired outcome. 

I could go on but 10 seems like a good place to stop. 

No one could make an argument that these behaviors have a positive upside.  And yet, most of us repeatedly fall into these habits from time to time and have one or two that grip us so deeply that they show up daily. 

All of us know that in order to be our most amazing self and to accomplish our big, wild dreams, we must say goodbye to the habits that undermine our performance and relationships. 

Most of us have been “trying” to kick one or more of these habits without success for a long time.  But the reality is, until the pain becomes greater than the status quo – which typically means we got fired, demoted, or screwed up big time – or until we make a conscious decision that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH and proactively transform our habits… we will never shed the old skin. 

Choosing the right path – the self-aware, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, “I’m 100% committed to being AWESOME”path is much easier than getting forced into it because the pain became too great.  And the choice is in front of each of us right now.  We all know the negative habits we cling to, and we all know that replacing them with something more powerful is 1) totally available to us, and 2) takes awareness, practice, and effort. 

What will you choose?

 

The Magic Wand of Perspective August 18, 2011

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Try as we might, we cannot control the world external to us.  We can; however, make decisive and conscious choices about how we choose to respond.  And within that choice is magic.  It is the difference between accepting and rejecting; flowing and resisting; embracing and repelling.  And while the blame game soothes the ego, the reality is that consciously choosing to see events as opportunities versus obstacles dictates our success. 

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature nor do the children of man as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” Helen Keller 1880-1968, Blind/Deaf Author and Lecturer

Here’s a great blog post by a friend who has just waved her own wand and redefined her life.  Enjoy!

http://the-happy-path.com/2011/08/18/it-is-your-journey-and-you-have-the-magic-wand/

 

The Brilliance of Doing Nothing July 5, 2011

This morning, I read a fantastic blog published by Six Pixels Of Separation that touted the brilliance of boredom.  Many roads take us to boredom, but the type of boredom I am talking about is better defined as a MENTAL TIMEOUT. This is a conscious choice to – for a period of time – ban input & just be. What qualifies as input? Email, text, surfing the web, reading, talking, and any kind of “doing.”

I’m not sure about you, but I know very few people who personally embrace quiet time with any discipline.  However, it is in these moments that ideas hit, brilliance percolates, and solutions come screeching out of nowhere. 

When we are taking info IN, we are recyling other’s thoughts & weaving their opinions through our minds.  This is not OUR wisdom – it is their’s.  Thus, while a big fan of education & learning, there is a fine line between input that creates true growth & input that prohibits you from hearing your own wisdom.  We all know people who are so full of other people’s wisdom that it’s impossible to know what they actually believe.  “Tony Robbins’ said this….,”  “John Maxwell recommends…,”  “Napoleon Hill believes….”  Great.  And the world is flat. 

When we are DOING, our minds are active & engaged, but because most of what we do is similar to what we have done in the past, we are recycling our own thoughts & further grooving our beliefs of the “AS IS” into our minds. Thus, we repeat the same patterns, sit in the same chair in meetings, have the same conversations with the same people.  And we try to solve the same problems with the same thinking we’ve used for the last 5 years. 

We have all witnessed a leader who has tried tirelessly to address an age old problem, and a role change happens, and bam!  The new leader immediately solves it.  This isn’t because one is smarter than the other.  It’s simply because one is thinking in a new way. 

How do you stop the INPUT?  Shut everything off & sit focusing on your breath.  As your mind wanders, bring it back to your breath.  If you want to get up and DO something, notice that & continue to sit.  If your mind starts making lists of tasks, notice that and return your focus to your breath.  Call it centering, meditation, or just boring yourself, it is in these times of silence that quantum stuff happens.  I promise you, you will notice a marked improvement in the quality of your thinking immediately & you will be shocked that you sustain this more creative, empowering, wise thinking for a period of time. 

If you base your DOING on the foundation of your time spent “BEING,” your results will go through the roof.  DOING is the root of all movement but BEING is the root of all advancement.  But it takes discipline & a conscious choice to build space into your day.  Especially when those around you don’t get it.  But trust me, the fact that you “get it” will serve you well. 

People always ask me how long they should “sit.”  Here’s my INPUT (aka: my wisdom for your consideration – not blind adoption).  23 Minutes / 1 Time per Day.  Twice a day is fabulous.  Why 23?  There is some research that shows 20 minutes is a significant marker in meditation as time is needed for our brain chemistry to shift.  23 for me because it takes me 3 minutes to simply talk myself out of springing back up & into action.  Many “sources” recommend 30 minutes.  If you have 5 minutes – take it.  You can shift your state & calm your mind with 90 seconds of intentional breathing. 

My last piece of advice?  This is easy in theory & difficult in practice.  It forces you to surpass very conditioned patterns of behavior like ceaseless activity & circular mind chatter.  28 days to form a habit.  If you are going to test drive this, commit to at least a month of daily boredom. 

Here’s the link to the blog post mentioned above: http://www.twistimage.com/movabletype/mt-tb.cgi/2494