No Resolutions. Just One WORD. ~January 2013
According to the research of Dan Britton, Jimmy Page and Jon Gordon, authors of One Word That Will Change Your Life, at the beginning of each New Year, 87% of adults will create New Year's resolutions. The exasperating facts are, over 50% of us will not carry out our goals past 30 days. As the year goes on, that percentage gets even more grim. The overwhelming majority of us will not hold our resolutions to the end of the year and will likely create the same list of "doing" the following January.
According to the authors, there is a simpler,
yet more profound way.
Last year, after hearing Jon Gordon speak about the power of one word, I tried this different approach to the New Year's Resolution.
I, along with my family, spent the first week of 2012 reflecting on a specific way in which each of us could stretch, grow and create a year that would bring about increased personal strength and happiness.
It was interesting how we each kept visiting certain words but would always keep going back to one specifically. It was like a word chose us. What was more interesting was that as soon as I committed to growing in Humility (Yup, that was my word!), it was like the Universe fell all over itself to bring me opportunities where I could practice! As you might imagine, these opportunities also brought about very uncomfortable moments, as challenges often do. However, I was fascinated by how powerful this commitment to myself really was for the entire year right up until this very minute. As the old pattern of being a chronic "know it all" surfaces (or any of the other related and not-so-pretty patterns), I am immediately reminded of my word. It may be through an image of it hanging on my office wall or simply my own inner voice reminding me of my focus to approach life from a place of greater humility.
So, you might ask, did it work? Are you done working on humility? Definitely not! Because it's in my nature to speak first and think later (I know, I know), it may be awhile before I reach a 10 on the restraint scale. However, because I am determined to evolve in this way, I am far more aware of when I am choosing to act based on a desire to feel important over acting from a state of grace, compassion and service and therefore have become far more inclined to choose different. As you can imagine, my experiences and the experiences others have with me are more positive overall as a result of my pledge to implement one WORD.
What if one WORD could have a powerful effect and move you towards a new way of being, and therefore experiencing?
What if your choice to commit to one WORD could change your life?
You really are that powerful.
It's Just A Stretch of the Road
I'm running into a
lot of women lately who are feeling like they're in a rut. They have come to a point in their lives where they are finding themselves lacking clarity and a sense of direction. As women,
they are expected to carry on but life feels different for some reason. It's not necessarily a good different but it's not a bad different either. They just simply feel compelled towards
The Good, the Bad and the Yikes!
You know when you
just feel like screaming....when you are over-flowing with feelings of being overwhelmed, and if you don't release them, you'll either explode or drown?
Powerful Baseball and Bathrooms?
This past Mother's
Day, my family and I attended a baseball game. Several rows in front of us, sat a beautiful mother - in all senses of the word. Her grace overwhelmed me at times as she cared for her
seriously disabled child. As she appeared to enjoy the game and her time at the park, her gaze never stayed on the field for more than a few seconds. She lovingly checked on the adorable
child beside her, suctioning his lungs every 5 or so minutes and attending to his many needs. She appeared at ease and light-hearted, smiling often at both of her young children and her
Powerful Parents, Powerful Kids
As a former manager in the sales industry, one of the many things I came
to learn about myself was that I wanted to be a leader nobody needed; although it took me awhile to get there.
My goal here is to stimulate thought-provoking conversation between parents and
their kids and to challenge us all to view our instrumental roles through a different lens. In having these discussions with my own children, I have slowly come to learn that the simple
question, "Who will I choose to be as a parent" keeps me focused on my desire that my children know just how powerful they really are and how important it is to me to lead them in a way that
encourages them to lead themselves.
Support for Your Goals in the New Year
It's here again. Goal setting time. We get geared up, we look at all
the things that aren't working and remind ourselves of all the things we need to accomplish; eat better, make more money, acquire more stuff, finally fit into the skinny jeans we've been saving,
exercise, achieve, achieve, achieve. We each have different ideas on what it is we want to be different in the new year but we all share the challenges that come along with making it
happen. Let's face it, if it were easy, we would have achieved it a long time ago. If it were easy, we wouldn't be ready to give up by February.
What if this year, we focused most on taking personal responsibility for who we will be each day and how we will show up in our families, work place and communities. How about placing emphasis on strengthening relationships as a partner, spouse, parent, daughter, son, co-worker, employer, employee and/or friend. In controlling our thoughts and reactions, we will come to understand how it supports our quest towards external goals, as those come easier when internal harmony exists.
The Gift of Power During the Holidays
In my work with private clients, I ask them to look at these challenging relationships from a new perspective: a perspective of gratitude.
Think about what it would be like to be in such a space and not feel the need to react. Think about what it would feel like to understand that someone else's choices are a reflection on them and a lifetime of their experiences and has nothing to do with you. Think about what it would feel like to not be bothered or offended at all, enjoying yourself, regardless of who shows up for dinner.
Try focusing your energy on what you can learn from these interactions and from those people who you allow to aggravate and dis-empower you. In other words, think about challenging yourself to grow as a result of this person's choices. If you were able to sit in the presence of one of the chronic offenders and choose to see clearly that they are someone who is doing the best they can with the tools they have in their own personal tool belt in each moment, what trait would that build for you in your own life? Would it be patience? Would it be compassion? Perhaps forgiveness? What would it be for you?
Take that one step further and ask yourself, how would that one trait affect the other areas of your life? How would having more patience improve your relationships with your children, your co-workers or your spouse for example? What would forgiveness free you up to do and think as you live without such a heavy load? How would that one trait help to empower you to live your best life?
With that perspective in mind, can you see the value of this relationship in that it gives you an opportunity to see yourself better and to practice a quality that would most assuredly lead you to a more powerful existence.
This approach does not mean that we bottle up our feelings and keep our mouth shut. It means that we understand that trying to control someone else is a waste of our precious energy and that focusing on drama, builds and creates more drama. We are aware that too often perfection is expected of each of us yet not one of us is able to live up to such expectations and more often than not, fear is at the root of all poor behaviors. When we absorb the negativity of someone else's choices and we let them affect us in ways that cause us frustration, guilt and defensiveness, that is giving away our power. So how do we not dread these interactions this year and decide to enjoy the holidays? A little perspective goes a long way.
You really are that powerful.
Ignore the Daggers
Recently, I was speaking with a 5th grader about an incident that occurred at dismissal time. She boarded the bus and a few minutes later, an 8th grader sat in the seat across the aisle,
looked over at her and said, "Ah, you do know, that's my seat, right?" She made a few other comments that made it clear that that was her seat. Not knowing what to say,
yet knowing that there were no assigned seats, the 5th grader stayed put and just ignored the girl.
In many similar instances, we choose this same reaction and there are many times where this serves us well. It seems to have served this 5th grader well. But what if there's an even better way to handle certain situations? What if we just chose to ignore the daggers someone throws our way yet not ignore the person?
What if the 5th grader said confidently yet with a humorous tone, "Gee, I didn't realize there were assigned seats?" or "Hey, I don't care where I put this heavy bag of books so tomorrow, the seat's all yours!" Regardless of the exact words used, if we examine a situation a little deeper, we find new paths to explore.
For example, after further discussion, the 5th grader let me know that this older student actually lives in a motel room with her entire family. This sheds new perspective on the situation, doesn't it? It's easy now to see what's behind such a comment and why this child would feel the need to stake a claim on a bus seat. Most of us would just write her off as an insensitive bully but what if there's more to the story? There almost always is.
The point is, we always have a choice to live from a place of compassion, figure out what might make someone tic and to look for ways to bring light to dark situations. Ignoring someone who is behaving in such a way might work and it is certainly better than giving your power away by becoming defensive, becoming someone's victim or engaging in a heated debate and may actually be a perfectly acceptable and necessary way to handle a situation.
However, it does nothing to lift the energy of the moment. It does nothing to inspire someone to make a better choice.
A final example; I was in the grocery store, walking down the aisle headed straight for a man walking towards me. We stepped to one side simultaneously, then stepped to the other, then to the other, and the other. We've all had that experience when finally one person just stops so the other can walk by. Well this particular time, the man got totally aggravated with me, rolled his eyes back and gave out a large sigh as if to say, "You are wasting my time!"
It would have been totally appropriate to ignore him and keep walking since certainly I did nothing wrong BUT why not take the opportunity to infuse a little much needed light? As we were side by side, I whispered, "I think you just wanted to dance with me!" Immediately, his face softened, he looked me right in the eye and laughed out loud.
I have no idea what makes this guy tic and what was behind his grouchy state but I do know that we all have bad days and that I can choose to ignore the person or just dodge his dagger.
This can apply to all relationships, not just those with passing strangers. Some might argue that it's giving in to someone or making excuses for someone else's behavior. I hear your argument loud and clear. I stress that with this approach, it's all about the confidence and the power you exude through your body language and tone of voice. Your response says without words, "I will not absorb your negativity and I choose to be a strong and positive influence on others ."
What are the situations in your life where compassion and a light-hearted, humorous tone behind a confident demeanor could infuse light to darkness? Is it with a co-worker who may not be skilled in interpersonal relationships or maybe a controlling mother in law who struggles with letting go? Is it a demanding boss overwhelmed under the weight of unrealistic expectations? Where in your life might you sideswipe the sword while encouraging brighter outcomes?
You really are that powerful.
Oprah Winfrey had a troubled childhood that included being sexually abused repeatedly by
several different men from the ages of 9-14. After much trauma, she would later become one of the most powerful and influential people the world has ever known.
Immaculee Ilibagiza lived hidden for 3 months in a 3'X4' secret bathroom in the home of a pastor with 7 other starving women. Her entire family was brutally murdered during the Rwandan holocaust; some just inches from her, outside the bathroom window. She would later speak for countless audiences worldwide on the power and necessity of forgiveness, marry a supportive and loving husband and have 2 beautiful children. Her life-changing book has sold more than 250,000+ copies worldwide.
began writing her famous Harry Potter series as a single mother, while suffering from clinical depression and suicidal thoughts and while on welfare and is now leading an over $15 Billion dollar
Andy Andrews (one of my favorite authors), went from being homeless and broke, living under a pier on the Gulf Coast, to being personally invited to speak at the request of 4 US presidents as well as many highly ranked military leaders. His influential novel, The Traveler's Gift was turned down as a manuscript by 51 publishers before it went on to become a New York Times Bestseller and translated into more than 20 languages.
Imagine you were given the knowledge of who these people would become and you were given the opportunity to tell them this information during their darkest moments.
As Oprah fought back the demons as a young teenager, imagine you told her she would one day be one of the greatest influences and one of the most powerful people of all time. Would she have believed you?
Or, you arrived under that pier on the Gulf Coast to find a young man who lost both of his parents too young, and you let him know that one day he would become an empowering communicator that would inspire countless audiences with his messages of hope and perspective, including some of the greatest leaders in the world. And what if you told him that he would take what he learned from those biographies he was reading under that pier and use it to write books that would sell millions of copies, influencing countless people to make better choices for themselves. Would he have believed you?
What if you were one of the women who shared that tiny bathroom with Immaculee and you let her know to just hang on because she would one day be a force that would change the world with her message of forgiveness. And, what if you told her she would be honored with numerous humanitarian awards and regarded as one of the world's leading speakers on peace, faith, and forgiveness by sharing her universal message with world dignitaries, school children, multinational corporations and churches. And if you told her that her story, Left to Tell would be mandatory reading at such prominent institutions as Villanova University, would she have believed you?
What if you sat beside J.K. Rowling on that train as the story of Harry Potter began to materialize in her head and you let her know that her ideas would grow into a series of 7 books that would sell about 450 million copies and would be translated into 67 languages, entertaining and serving millions, making the Harry Potter brand worth in excess of $15 billion, would she have believed you?
Really imagine what these people must have been thinking in those dire moments. Did they feel alone, empty, scared, stuck and unsure? Perhaps unsuccessful, unimportant and unfulfilled? Were they confused, bewildered and broken?
My guess is that you are also aware of people who have been in such a state to only turn around and create a life of amazing success. I could have written pages and pages of people I have read about or have known who have weathered their own personal storms and done just that.
Let me fill you in on a secret. I have information about you.
You have that same potential for greatness within you right now.
That idea in your head, that inspiration you push aside, the story that only you can tell, that vision people tell you isn't possible, that thought you have about helping that group or person or that business you dream about has the ability to change your life.
You have the power to change the world.
Do you believe me?
Do You Know How Smart You Are? May 2011
Do you have any idea how smart you are? I don't mean the kind of "smart" that lands you on Jeopardy or grants you a full ride to Harvard. Sure, this kind of knowledge serves us in ways but I'm thinking of the everyday brilliance that exists within you.....actually, within each of us.
I'm talking about intuition.
This is one of the most important qualities I seek to develop in my clients and it's the single greatest tool I rely on in my coaching. If you've ever researched great leaders, philosophers and hugely successful people you know that one of the most prominent traits they share is a trust in their own intuition. They make it a habit to develop it, listen to it and take action on this built in, inner guidance system.
You have this same compass inside of you just waiting to be consulted. Most of us often forget and go through life confused and frustrated, relying on outside sources to help us navigate challenges. This mistake often costs us and even if these outside sources work for us in one instance, we unfortunately learn to become dependent on them when the next challenge appears.
Our intuition is that "still, small voice" within that has the ability to answer any question you will ever ask yourself.
- Is it a yes, or is it a no? Should I or shouldn't I? Does this decision serve me or not? What should I do next? Is this relationship right for me? What choice should I make? How can I......?
Making a firm, strong decision is difficult for many people. Next time you are faced with such a dilemma, consider consulting your intuition. You already have all the answers. You just simply need to ask, get quiet and then listen. The more you consult within, the easier it will be for you to hear and feel a solution. Start practicing with small decisions and then build up to more complex challenges. Soon, you'll learn to utilize this always present tool all day long. Your intuition is your constant source of inspiration.
Tips on developing your intuition:
- Commit to regularly practicing relaxation techniques such as sitting quietly, clearing your mind of distractions and focusing on only the present moment.
- When faced with a problem, stop to reflect on it and then pay attention to any hunches, thoughts, images or feelings you might experience. Pay attention to how your stomach area feels (your "gut") and even physical sensations.
- Keep a journal and record your intuitive experiences.
Follow your intuition. The more faith you place in your own inner wisdom by acting on it, the more you will notice it's benefits.
Spring into Power ~ 3 Empowering Practices for the New Season! March 2011
Take care of yourself...rather than looking for things to take out of your diet, look for things to add like a few additional servings of an organic fruit or vegetable each day, a few extra glasses of water or a cup of organic herbal tea. The thought of a drastic change stops many of us from even trying to be successful at better health. It's more realistic to take baby steps and when you master one new behavior, commit to adding something else. Make an appointment with an acupuncturist, an energy healer or a naturopathic or homeopathic practitioner and look for ways to supplement alternative methods of relieving stress and achieving balance. Learning ways to help your body not absorb the overwhelming amounts of daily pressure it faces is one of the greatest ways to maintain wellness.
When we allow ourselves to be infested with negative thoughts, we unconsciously look for ways to support what we believe to be true. Create an awareness of what you tell yourself each day. When you are stuck in negative thought patterns such as, "I don't have enough" or "What if" thinking or when you catch yourself making decisions based on what you believe other people might think about you, at first, simply observe that you are having these thoughts. After you've given yourself some time to notice these patterns, change how they affect you by imagining yourself hitting a delete button and canceling out the thought. Then immediately replace it with a new one. For example, if the thought is, "I don't have enough", replace it with, "In this moment, I have everything I need".
You might be thinking, "How can this help me? I won't believe that replacement thought!" The reality is, constantly reminding yourself of all that you lack and all that you're not will most definitely weaken you and over time, your life's decisions and choices will reflect the direction of your mind's compass. If it's always pointing down, it will be impossible for you to go up. What we think about is what we bring into our life.
When you begin a practice such as taking a minimum of 5 minutes to sit quietly alone or a daily deep breathing exercise, you begin to crave its benefits. If you are caught up in the chaos of everyday tensions, consider stopping for even just a minute, to close your eyes and do nothing but breathe-the kind of breaths that when you are done, you feel cleansed and refreshed. Commit to counting 10 slow, deep breaths while erasing all thoughts at least once a day and see how you feel. When you have created a habit, consider expanding this practice to a daily guided meditation and maybe even journal your thoughts. Over time, you will feel calmer with more clarity for making important decisions. It seems like a small step but it carries countless benefits.
Removing the Stigma of Suicide
This was a very difficult newsletter for me to write because it's so unlike what my readers expect from me. I'm compelled to sway from the normal tone in my writing for just this month in order to address an important topic. If it makes a difference for even one person who reads it, it will have been worth the heaviness for all of us.
About a month ago, I was heading out of state for a funeral. The days before leaving, as I tended to my responsibilities, I felt intense sadness that the world had lost such a beautiful beacon of light and I was devastated for her family who had lost a devoted wife, daughter and mother. At different times throughout the day, I needed to share with others that I was leaving town. Some asked the expected questions such as, "Where are you going?" and "Why?" When I shared that I would be attending a funeral, it naturally led to the most difficult question to answer, "How did someone so young die?"
In my mind, there is no stigma attached to suicide. To me it's a no-brainer that anyone who has resorted to such an act, must have been suffering in ways many will thankfully never comprehend. According to national statistics, 90% of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death. Therefore, I choose to believe that most people who take their own life are not capable of thinking clearly in that moment. Quite literally, the chemicals in their brains are not functioning as they should. As a result of such beliefs, I became disheartened by the knee-jerk reactions and opinions of others as I went about my day.
"I can't help it. I think that is so
"How could she have done that to those that love her?"
"That makes me so angry!"
"How could her family ever forgive her?"
My question back to them was, "Have you ever suffered from anxiety and/or depression or any other type of disorder of the brain?"
Each of them said, no. Some even said things like, "I guess I shouldn't judge because I don't understand."
Let me be clear. I'm not a doctor or a therapist. I don't have clinical knowledge on anxiety, depression and suicide beyond my own limited research and experience. What I do know is that we can't just wish for that pain to go away. And although not everyone depressed and anxious will go on to take their own life, people who face such disorders are truly suffering in incomprehensible ways.
My intent in addressing such a difficult topic is to create more awareness surrounding just a couple of its many facets. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, about 15 percent of the population will suffer from clinical depression at some time during their lifetime. Thirty percent of all clinically depressed patients attempt suicide. Depression does not discriminate....anyone is at risk.
Oftentimes, those suffering, do so in silence. Over 8 years ago, during the time of my own encounter with anxiety and depression, nobody knew. When I did finally talk to my doctor, I was not completely honest about the intensity of my symptoms. I was angry at myself. I had no idea what was wrong with me. I kept yelling at myself to just snap out of it and I reminded myself constantly that I had no reason and no right to be feeling like I did. I "acted" as if I was fine, yet secretly, I was panic stricken, suffering from terrible insomnia and sad to the point of despair. I was confused and embarrassed and asked every day that God would just give me a sign that I would make it through the month, the week, the day and sometimes even just the night.
Leading to my second area of concern is that, without question, my own struggle was brought on as a side effect of a medication. I was prescribed a drug to treat a different and common, benign, physical problem and I suddenly found myself dealing with something so much bigger.
Medications can be a life saver for many, including those who suffer from anxiety and depression. However, it's important to be aware that the side effects of certain drugs could actually make such disorders worse. In fact, in a small subset of people taking certain types of medications, there is a risk of increasing suicidal thoughts and behaviors, even in those who have never experienced such thoughts before.
All we need to do is watch TV for a few days to learn about how many medications (for all types of ailments), carry the warning of this very concerning side effect.
Please, if you or someone you know is suffering, TALK. Share how you are feeling with others. When we share our stories, we realize that we're more alike than we know and our experiences and compassion may serve as a life saver for someone else.
Seek help from a professional and support from family and friends. Regardless of how difficult that conversation might be, do not be embarrassed and be sure to divulge all of your symptoms. Many leading suicide resources report that a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and medication is the best treatment for severe depression. If you are considering taking a medication for any reason, FIRST educate yourself. Know and share with loved ones the risks of ALL medications you are taking and ask to be closely monitored by a doctor AND family members while on such therapies, especially as you begin something new. And if you do choose medication, find out in advance how you would need to wean yourself off safely in the event that it becomes necessary.
Again, I do not claim to be an expert. I am not against the use of medication nor am I qualified to give such advice. My intention is to encourage thought-provoking conversations and what could be, life saving awareness. Most of all, my intention is to do my part to help remove the stigma and shed light on new perspectives regarding suicide, which plagues far too many families. Sometimes it's those uncomfortable subjects such as this one that leads us to consider just how powerful an impact we have the ability to make, both for ourselves and others. In the words of Maya Angelou, "When we know better, we do better."
Who's Irritating YOU?
We Are the Reason!
People are distressed in a relationship because they perceive that another person is treating them badly. Maybe they are tired of the way their spouse, mother/mother-in-law or sister treats them. Some will talk about being taken advantage of by their grown children and under appreciated.
Some will talk about being the only one at their job who does all the
work or stays late. These are just a few examples that many people commonly experience.
A Few Questions to Ask Ourselves When Faced With Similar Challenges
- Do I speak up directly and respectfully when there is a problem or do I stay quiet, breeding resentment?
- Am I taking responsibility for my part in a challenged relationship?
- Do I respond to difficult situations after thinking it through or do I react with defensiveness?
- Do I reward my grown children or spouse for treating me with disrespect by continuing to tend to many of their daily wants or needs or do I clearly communicate my expectations and boundaries?
- Do I say no gracefully and without guilt when I don't want to do something or do I reluctantly give in and do it anyway?
- Who's responsible for my happiness?
the state of our relationships as well as the state of our lives.
The fact is, as the common phrase goes, we teach people how to
treat us. We are the reason our relationships will involve mutual respect or a
one way street to misery.
The fact that we are responsible is GOOD NEWS! It means we have the power to change what is no longer working in our lives.
An important lesson in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: "Nobody has the right to make you feel inferior without your consent."
Until we choose what we will and will not tolerate for ourselves,
blaming someone else is simply a useless way of continuing to live exactly the same way
The most effective and long lasting
way to change a relationship is through intention, responsibility,
compassion, forgiveness and gratitude.
Contemplation For A Different Outcome
- What is my intention in confronting change with this person? Is it to make the relationship or situation better for all involved? Assuming that it is, how can I approach this person while aligning with that intention? Compromising our worth does not serve us and playing small is a huge dis-service to others. If we've determined our intention is to get even, be judgmental or to force our views on someone else, the outcome we are likely to receive may involve more drama and chaos than not .
- When we take responsibility for our part in the challenged relationship, what we are saying is, "I'm done focusing on obstacles, limitations and excuses and I'm ready to take on a different approach." It's not about blaming ourselves but instead acknowledging that we can always do better. It's understanding that it's up to us to hold higher expectations for and from ourselves and our relationships and now is the time.
- When we hold the thought that the other person, like us, is not perfect and that they are doing the best they can with the tools they have in their own personal tool belt in each moment, we are bringing an energy of respect and compassion to the relationship and conversation. It's not about making excuses for the way someone behaves but learning to handle the situation from a more empowered perspective.
- Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. It's not saying what someone may have done is okay with us. It's saying, "I understand that you are human and that your actions are a reflection on you and your values. I will no longer choose to carry around your choices and views in the form of anger, hatred, shame or guilt." We have two choices: Hold a grudge and stay still or empower ourselves to drop that heavy weight, forgive and move forward.
- We always have the choice to complain about all that's wrong with our life or to look for what's right and to seek out the natural strengths of others. A focus on Gratitude is a powerful way to see ourselves, those around us and our life from a whole new perspective.
Everything We Do Really
Is it Just Luck?
What Will They Think?
A consistent theme that comes up with many of my coaching clients is the fear of what other people think. Those fears range from, "what will people think if I make a mistake, or if I don't do what they think I should do," to, "what will people think if I'm not perfect," to everything in between.
Allowing these fears to stop us from living our life on our terms is giving away our power. Why do we do
So if you're worrying
about someone else judging your next move, stop.
Over the last several months, I've found myself
frequently giving away my power by doing a lot more "running around" than usual and I know it's time to re-focus. I don't necessarily mean the running around we do when we're tackling the
endless errands or while tending to the high demands of stressful jobs, a home, children and their many activities. Yes, all of that can be challenging, but far more stressful is the imbalance
we create in choosing the thoughts we allow to "run around" inside our head's.
The Key to Your Better Future is YOU! Taking 100% Responsibility
As April approaches, it is a time of re-birth and
renewal. One of the ways we can step into our power is through self-evaluation and determining which of our behaviors and thought patterns serve us best and which ones do not.....sort of a
spring cleaning for the soul! If you polled many of my coaching clients, they would tell you I'm always sharing my philosophy on the importance of taking 100% responsibility for our thoughts,
actions and reactions in order to reach our personal and professional best.....But it's not always easy!
How Heavy is Your Sack Of Potatoes?
Many years ago I was grateful to have attended a presentation by a motivational speaker from Australia named Amanda Gore. One of the biggest things I took away from her energetic talk was her analogy of the sack of potatoes!
She encouraged her audience to create a visual of how we carry around a sack on our back and every time someone we know or even someone we don't know drops a comment, an opinion or an action that offends us or makes us feel bad about ourselves, it's like they are dropping their own potatoes. Instead of acknowledging that the potato has nothing to do with us and actually stems from the values and experiences of the person who dropped it, we pick it up anyway and we choose to put it in our sack. After picking up other people's potatoes and carrying them around for a lifetime in the form of limiting self beliefs, remorse and guilt, eventually our sack becomes so heavy, we are hunched over, depleted and resentful.
We can simply choose to drop the sack.
Do you carry around the effects of other people's choices? When other people insult or offend you, how do you react? Do you swallow it and hold it in and then build up anger and resentment? Do you yell or talk back and demand that this person respect you, as you experience their defenses rising as a result of your preaching? How would it feel to instead stand in your power, knowing that someone else's opinions and choices are simply not "your stuff"? How would it feel to take a deep breath, let it bounce right off you, knowing that your opinion of you is the most important one of all?
How heavy is your sack and are you ready to lighten the load?
This month, how many of those old potatoes are you willing to drop from your sack? Starting today, create that awareness of your power and acknowledge those big and small spuds that other people drop in your path by smiling, standing tall and stepping around each one. You may still trip over a few, and that's okay........accessing your power takes practice!
It's a new year......a time when we all decide to try and live up to those expectations we set for ourselves only to be disappointed yet again by our lack of ability to hold onto our convictions even until the end of January. We are all the same, aren't we? So why do we get so angry with ourselves when clearly we are not alone in our struggles? Why do such a small percentage of us actually ever stick to those New Year's Resolutions and accomplish those challenging goals?
This year, rather than put the main focus on New Year's Resolutions and goal setting, place your primary focus on letting go. Yes, let go......of those self defeating thoughts, of the emotional stress you put on yourself, the pressure, the guilt and the shame. Let go.
We often overlook the necessity of letting go of those subliminal thoughts about ourselves that have never served us but most of us hold anyway, such as, "I can't, I'm not good enough, what will they think and I don't deserve it". These are the underlying beliefs that hold us back without our even realizing it and lead us to the illusion that the reason we fail is because we're lazy and undisciplined. In fact, the real reason is that we are not willing to see or accept how strong and powerful we already are, and how everything we will ever need to succeed, already lies within us. I was fortunate enough to attend a talk given by the influential speaker, Sarano Kelley, and one of the many wise questions he posed to his audience was, "Would you ever let anyone speak to your child the way you speak to yourself?"
With all of that said, it's important to address that having goals is essential. Setting goals and writing them down in order to crystallize that energy into something tangible and attainable is one of the pre-cursors to achievement. I am a big believer in the importance of responsibility, discipline, organizational skills, time management, persistence and consistency.....all the necessary ingredients for society's definition of success both personally and professionally. However, if we don't choose to focus first on identifying the reason behind the goal, the absolute core of what's truly important, we likely end up disappointed, guilty, frustrated and worse off than before because it leaves us with the impression of defeat.
For example, why do so many people set out to lose weight and so few actually reach their goal? Yes, it's hard work but perhaps it's because the underlying reason for the goal is not identified or addressed. For many, it may be to feel better about the person who looks back at them in the mirror, to feel comfortable in their own skin and be truly happy with themselves on the outside. Maybe it's to feel deserving and loved by others. Identifying the hidden motive is imperative for success because otherwise our strategies for achievement will be geared in the wrong direction. We can lose all the weight we want and hire the best plastic surgeons money can buy, but if we don't feel happy about who we are on the inside, we're missing the most rewarding achievement of all.
Often when we set goals, it's with an end result in mind. Again, that's not necessarily a bad thing if we know why we are setting the goal in the first place. In other words, if the goal is "I will earn XXX amount of dollars by June 1, 2010" do we first stop to ask why and listen for an honest answer? For most, when we set such a goal we think on the surface, meaning we think about all the things we want or need to buy with that money, the bill's we will pay, the stuff we can own and even how it would improve our status in society. However, are we also thinking about gratitude for all we already have and how money doesn't and will never define how valuable we truly are to those in our lives? Are we setting that goal because we feel insecure, because we compare ourselves to others and are trapped in a thought pattern of not having enough and not being enough. How would it serve us to first focus on what's behind our need to have more money and more stuff?
Believe me, I'm no different than most and having more money is typically in some way on my list of goals each year, too. I truly believe that there is more than enough prosperity in the world and that to set forth responsibly to enjoy abundance in all forms is our absolute birthright. But I'll be honest, when I put "make XXX amount of dollars" on my goal list in years past, it was because I lived in fear that I would never have enough. Therefore, no matter how much more money I made, it was never adequate to make me feel successful. As I've grown personally, I have developed a feeling of security, not because of what's in my bank account but because my focus is on gratitude and self assurance, rather than fear.
Another way to illustrate this point is when we set a goal, such as, to build a business, we might set small sub goals as well. In other words, the heading goal may be to build a business but the sub heading goals or strategies might be something like: 1) Explore the opportunities of using social networking sites to build exposure and a contact list. 2) Read one new book a week on related topics of such business. 3) Consult with a mentor. 4) Network with likeminded people, Etc. Those are all examples of necessary and important aspirations but if those types of surface goals are the first and only focus, as the weeks go by, it's too easy to get caught up in the traps of thought that sound a little like the following: "What if I'm not smart enough? What if I can't do it? Who do I think I am? What if nobody wants my product or services?"
For many of us, it comes down to our self worth. When we start to question how valuable we are, we become diverted and are faced with the following thoughts: "Am I really worth the effort of doing what it would take to make sure I achieve my own personal best?" "Am I truly capable of what I have set out to do?" And then there's the all encompassing, "What will other people think of me?" Our level of success is 100% based on our answers to those types of questions.
For me, by focusing on the true intention, which in regards to building my own business, is, "to use my strengths to make a positive difference in the world," I am placed in a position where I am reminded beyond a shadow of a doubt WHY I have set this particular goal in the first place. This focus gives a new importance to my mission and allows me to not get swallowed up by the "what ifs" and instead be confident in my motives and the positive effect I seek to create, opening me up to a more successful result overall.
So this year, whether you call them goals or New Year's Resolutions or both, as you crystallize them onto paper, first identify what's behind each of them, let go of those feelings of inadequacy and know that everything you desire is most definitely within your reach. Decide that from this moment on, you will appreciate others for their own individual strengths but you will let go of the need to compare yourself to them or worry what they may be thinking about you. From this moment on, decide that your goals will come from a place of power and intention and let go of the fear. From this moment on, decide to believe that you are worth the effort and deserve everything you aspire to achieve. Don't forget to enjoy the journey!
The Gift of Power at the Holidays, November
It's the time of year where we are reminded of all we have to be thankful for. For many, this time of year can also be very difficult as it sometimes brings forth difficult memories and painful feelings of inadequacy as families come together.