Lead Your Life

Leadership, Awareness, and Growth

Invent Adventure January 21, 2017

Filed under: thoughts become things,Uncategorized — laurajuarez @ 12:47 pm
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I’ve come to realize that I’ve taken on, built in, said YES to so much in my life that finding space between the action required to support these responsibilities is a challenge.  And, I picked and love (most of the time) it all.  I chose to lead a manufacturing company, to give birth to a yoga business, to buy a second studio, to have children, to join boards, to get married, to bring home the second dog…  (This list could go on but you get my point).

Each of those endeavors hold varying degrees of meaning to my heart & spirit, but they all are positive imprints in my life.  And, when you string them together across a day, a week, a month, and a year; I am not different than you – the sheer busyness can be dizzying.  God Forbid an unexpected blip hits your radar.  How does one materialize the time to care for a child home from school or a leak in the basement?

So, we either fall prey to an undercurrent of stress or we learn, through disciplined self-teaching, to ebb and flow, to let go, to lower expectations, to go easy, and to breathe our way back to center.  And…  even then something is missing.

Adventure.  Adventure is different to each of us.  Helen Keller said:

“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

For me, adventure is new.  It is a hike on an unchartered path or a trip to an unexplored part of the planet.  It is swinging from a rope with Maya, dancing with my husband in the kitchen, playing basketball with Jack.  It is learning something new, taking a risk in a conversation, walking over the log instead of the bridge.  It feels like your brain and spirit waking up at the same time your lips curl up in the corners.

Adventure is waiting for you.  She is singing her mermaid song to lure you in.  And you will only notice her if you practice the art of the pause in your life.  Looking up from your task list and device to wonder what that distant sound is and then extending your pause to explore.  Following your instinct and curiosity.

My productivity & quality skyrockets when my life is infused with adventure.  And when my life gets too linear and task oriented, my output becomes less creative and inspired.  I get it all done, but that is not my measure of work well accomplished.

Seek adventure.  Thrill your spirit.  Lighten your heart.  Stimulate your mind.  Drive a new way to work, bicycle to the store, skip across the street, take the trip.  It matters.  Where will you seek adventure today?

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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.

 

Me So Stupid April 3, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurajuarez @ 11:55 pm
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I have played around with meditation for years, but quite honestly, the word “dabbling” is just barely an honest assessment of my commitment to the practice.

Don’t get me wrong; I am fascinated by this age-old habit.  I read EVERYTHING under the sun on the topic, I attended trainings, I listened to podcasts, I espoused its benefits, I had even TAUGHT meditation.  But actually meditating  on a daily basis?  Well….

Until about 2 years ago.

What happened?  I had the profound realization that stress makes you stupid.  I have always nurtured an intimate, behind closed doors relationship with stress.  Don’t we all?  We work so hard to make it look pretty on the outside, but the inside feels like a pressure cooker, a precariously balanced stack of plates, a juggling act with bowling balls and knives.  Welcome to modern-day living.  In fact, we’ve become so desensitized to stress that many of us wear it like a badge of honor.

Gut check on that:  If you’ve found yourself droning on about your endless task list to a friend or bragging about your Herculean feat of getting 3 kids to different practices while finishing a work assignment and planning a meal – you may be a stress addict.

Hello.  My name is Laura.  And I am an adrenaline junkie.  There.  It’s said.

Stress has taken a fairly big toll on my life; most notably my health.  9 years ago, my body nearly shut down, and had it not been for the loving guidance of my doctor & support of my family, I would have suffered much more.  Maybe thick-headed, but that was not enough for me to step into a daily practice of meditation.  I toyed with it, practiced haphazardly, meditated for months on end and then matched it with months OFF end.

Until 2 years ago when I realized that stress made me stupid.  I have high value for critical thinking, creative problem solving, & articulate communication.  These are “success virtues” in my book, and it took realizing that stress compromised my critical thinking, stymied my creativity, and chopped up my communication before I decided to get serious about meditation.  Health impairment I can live with.  Stupidity?  No way.  (Subject of another blog).

Here’s the simple truth:  meditation is the fastest route to less stress.  Period.  Those of us who think we can’t sit still, can’t calm down, can’t relax enough to meditate are the PERFECT CANDIDATES for this easy but quite messy practice.  All you have to do is sit, close your eyes, and follow your breath.  Witness yourself in stillness.  Stay in the discomfort.  Breathe.  Breathe Again.  10 Minutes:  voila!

Do I meditate every day?  NO!  Even now, I find a day (and sometimes days) slide by without intentional effort on my part.  Be gentle with yourself but disciplined.  Try it for 60 days @ 10 minutes a day.  (I promise you – you can carve out 10 minutes).  Meditation doesn’t take time – it creates time.  It creates a calmer mind, a warmer heart, and a more open and reception you.  You are worth it!

 

 

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

 

The Dreaded Slump May 31, 2011

The Dreaded Slump…  Agghhh.  And yet, we all fall prey to this momentum killer.  We’re cruising along, and bam, we wake up one day realizing our energy has tanked & our motivation is awakened only by sticks vs. sheer desire for awesome results.  Fear versus desire.  Responsibility (I have to) versus appetite (I want this so bad I can taste it).  It happens to the elite, to the amazing, to the average, to the weak…  The slump does not discriminate. 

Often, I see people hit their slump and fail to realize it.  So, they blame outside conditions & people for their “state,” all the while cycling in their own toxic, stale energy like a hamster on a wheel.  And every inch feels like a mile. 

The key is awareness.  No one is going to end your slump except for you.  And in order to do this, you have to know you are in a slump.  Pretty basic, and yet, I’ve seen talented, achievement focused people stall out for 3 changes of seasons.  Literally performing with one oar in the water and wondering why everything feels like resistance and they’re circling instead of progressing. 

We all have indicators of our slump.  Mine are different than yours, but all of us can learn to recognize our own MO and catch it early.  We blast out of the slump by changing our psychology & changing the way we work.  When the dreaded slump hits, I suggest taking a full day and redesigning your work from scratch.  What are the most impactful, meaningful projects for you to dive into?  What could your  most significant contribution be in the next 60 days?  What do you want to learn?  Master?  What inspires you, jazzes you up, and how can you integrate that into your day?  Poetic License to go crazy & come up with something that makes you yell “eureka” when you read it. 

Then – implement.  Build a more energizing path that stimulates your growth & inspires you to your peak.  Because a slump isn’t a moment of stand-still.  It’s either a wake-up call for progress or it’s regression.  Grow Or Die. 

Feel free to share your wisdom on how to kick the dreaded slump to the curb in the comments!

 

 

What’s The View From Your Personal Everest? May 25, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurajuarez @ 3:27 pm
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The gap between where you are and where you dream of being may seem daunting, but remember, the gap is nothing more than your potential.  It is the distance between today and what you are destined to achieve, and closing the gap is 100% within your power if you are willing to invest the energy & discipline into redefining how you work, think, play, and act. 

People who achieve breakthrough results know a secret and they live it with total obsession.  They know they are the product of their thinking, beliefs, and energy.  They know great results don’t just happen but are seeded by revolutionary thoughts.  And, the “work” that leads to an outstanding life requires more than just doing the right things.  It requires unleashing our potential by removing limiting beliefs and thoughts, creating a killer plan, and showing up ready to play. 

Your Everest Is Within Your Reach The Moment You Decide To Embrace It.  You owe it to yourself to go after it with complete passion and fearlessness. Temporary shifts can happen in a snap.  Quantum shifts; however, require higher stakes, deeper work, more profound change. 

THe ELITE don’t wait for the right time or the right opportunity.  They create it.  They take action NOW.  They seize the moment and engage others to help them see beyond their own paradigm and hold them accountable.

 

Single Biggest Distraction May 19, 2011

Your time is one of your most important resources.  Maybe your most important.  So why do we give it away so freely? 

Someone peeks their head in your office, and you find yourself in a 5 minute conversation about Gray’s Anatomy or worse, the weather.  Your email reminder flashes every nan0-second letting you know, that yes, your email is continuing to spiral out of control.  You respond instantaneously to every page, text, phone call, email, or “wazzup” in the hallway.  You begin web research only to find that within 5 minutes, you are reading the breaking news on some sex scandal in congress.  Every meeting you attend has 10 minutes of fluff at the beginning, 5 at the end, and at least one rambling story in the middle.  And don’t even get me started on the unraveling thread of facebook, twitter, linked in, etc. 

It’s all TIME.  And it’s precious.  And it’s the thing we all say we don’t have enough of.  And yet, we give it away.

How does this happen?  It would take a PhD in psychology to unpack that answer, but the bottom line is this:  giving away our most precious resource – time – is a choice.  Whether we are conscious about that choice or not is irrelevant.  In fact, all of our explanations for why are irrelevant as they are simply justifications for allowing distractions to feast on our day. 

Now consider that research shows that it takes the human brain, our supercomputer, 15 – 20 minutes to get back into the groove.  In other words, you’re in deep thought analyzing your P&L or laying out a killer marketing piece, interruption comes, and you’re at half mast for the following 20 minutes.  It’s not just the 5 minutes of idle chit-chat you’ve lost – it’s 25 minutes.  Research also shows that the average US worker reports 6 interruptions / day (not including their constant toggling back and forth to email).  At 20 minutes each, that’s 2 hours every day that is given away to distractions that make no difference to the results you dream of creating. 

That’s staggering.  And a call to action.  For those of us worried about offending someone, this data alone should be compelling enough to get past that hangup.   If you want to know how impactful this is in your week, count your distractions every day.  Multiple by 20, divide by 60, and that is the # of hours tossed out the window.  Better yet, categorize your distractions.  This will allow you to develop a plan to handle them so you feel good about your approach & you are ready when the next distraction happens. 

If you struggle asking people to cease & desist their morning monologue about last night’s TV marathon, script it.  Say it in a way that makes you feel good & accomplishes the goal.  If that doesn’t work, try compassionate bluntness.  “I know you are busy, as am I.  These conversations really interrupt my flow of thought, and thus, I’m asking for your help in stopping them.  We can always talk about The Bachelorette at lunch…”  Tada! 

Taking back our time so that we can stay on track with our mind’s engaged & on fire is not a luxury – it is a necessity for high performance.  We all have time drains… little holes in our day that time simply evaporates.  Be honest about yours and eliminate them.