I’ve noticed something really interesting over the last several months. It has to do with the energy, time and motivation I have for people who are appreciative. Now, while this may sound like an extremely obvious idea, which perhaps has taken me forty years too long to grasp, I’ve also noticed that many of us have a tendency to place far too much attention on people and activities that just don’t appreciate.
Note the duel meaning here; by appreciation, I’m talking about both an expression of recognition and gratitude, as well as an increase in value. As founder of the Happiness Studies Academy, former Harvard Professor in Positive Psychology and author of the book Happier, Tal Ben Shahar states, “when you appreciate the good, the good appreciates.”
So, what does it mean to “appreciate the good”? Is it as simple as passively taking note of the things that make us grateful, and perhaps even stating them out loud, and writing them down for ourselves? Or, could more be done in the form of appreciation? Is it possible that more of the finer things in life could appreciate, like love, deep friendships, rich conversation, success, wealth and overall life satisfaction, if we took more time to actively express our appreciation of others?
Since a young age, many of us have been taught the virtue of humility -- and by learning to maintain it, we’ve probably experienced a lot of benefits. For starters, when we keep a modest view of ourselves, we tend to be more open to learning from the world around us. To a large extent, any effective personal development system relies heavily on humility for honest self-reflection. Yet, so many of us tend to confuse humility with timidity, which seems altogether different.
While humility keeps us humble enough to grasp new life lessons and opportunities, timidity might cause us to hold back due to lack of confidence. In the New York Times bestselling book, The Book of Joy, written by Douglas Abrams, based on his interviews with his holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Tutu clarifies the difference between humility and timidity, “Humility allows us to celebrate the gifts of others, but it does not mean you have to deny your own gifts or shrink from using them.”
Fake it ‘til you make it: an old adage, which, in my opinion, is incredibly overused and all too often misunderstood.
While the saying is described by Wikipedia as, “an aphorism which suggests that by imitating confidence, competence, and an optimistic mindset, a person can realize those qualities in their real life,” it seems as though the concept fails to fully consider one critical precursor, namely, the very question it begs: How is one supposed to genuinely acquire confidence, competence and an optimistic mindset in the first place?
I’m talking about authentic confidence -- competence and optimism that drives purposeful actions and meaning. This sort of authenticity is not easily replaced with disingenuous behavior. After all, what is so terrible about transparently accepting where we are with full ownership while working toward becoming something better? The more honest we are about ourselves and where we are developmentally, the more we stand to receive opportunities that will help us progress further from where we are.
So, fake it until you make it? Who needs it when we can, instead, work towards a mindset of just "make it, so you never have to fake it?" Here are a few pointers to help us do just that:
We all know that immediate results aren’t typically part of the “let’s try something new” equation. Yet, we live in a world where we can order just about anything with the simple click of a button, only to find it on our doorsteps the very next morning. Most of us are incredibly impatient, and why wouldn’t we be? Waiting is not a common component of our everyday lives.
So often, impatience leads to giving-up and completely abandoning our goals, only to feel skeptical about the very dreams and aspirations that used to inspire us. So, who couldn’t use a little inspiration to stay-the-course with our biggest goals from time-to-time? Here are a few tips to do just that.
As I’ve wrestled my busiest self for all of these years, a few things have become abundantly clear. For starters, there’s a lot more to my “busyness” than all of the tasks, projects, accomplishments, social engagements, and activities I take on. Behind all of these things is actually a deep-rooted neediness to be recognized because of a much darker state of being – one that haunts me at my core.
For most of my life, I’ve stretched, flexed and adjusted my schedule to accommodate just about anything that seemed mildly “important,” just to numb-out a stinging voice underneath it all, which actually says, “I’m not very important.” And, what better way to discount this voice than to prove it wrong with everything I do?
As I’ve grown to own and understand this state affairs, I’ve also come to recognize a vast difference between my busyness, versus tending to important business. While the former keeps our need to feel important pacified with lots of distraction and noise, the latter is a disciplined choice to stay hyper-focused on what really matters. And, to know what’s really important, we have to get to know ourselves at a level far beyond what we do. As the late and great Wayne Dyer said, “I am a human being, not a human doing.”
I don’t think there’s a person reading this who couldn’t benefit from adding this goal to the very top of her/his 2018 Goals List: GOAL # 1: Double down on gratitude.
Think of how often we tend to set goals on the basis of escaping our current reality. We naturally deduce that “if x happens, then we will surely achieve happiness.” Yet, much like a large bonfire cannot burn without a spark, we cannot achieve happiness without first acknowledging its existence within the present moment.
In other words, energy attracts like energy, so in order to find momentum and motivation to take action towards the things we want, we will want to figure-out how to experience the feelings we want, right now, without allowing another minute to slip away from us. Here’s where gratitude offers the best starting point.
In today’s wired world, there is a lot of pressure, if not a blatant fixation on the concept of “being visible.” In fact, many of us may even question whether our experiences and opinions hold any value at all unless we are posting about them all over our social media platforms.
And, while it makes perfect sense that we’d want to share the greatest aspects of ourselves with the rest of the world, there’s also a great power in allowing ourselves to “be invisible” at times; yet, this concept seems severely underrated these days.
In a world where many business experts and leaders constantly tell us to, “go ahead, put yourself out there and be visible,” we may start to question if we are trying hard enough, or even at all, if we’re not courageously charging our social media accounts and posting our thoughts, photos and videos at all hours of the day.
And, while many of us have genuine desires to share our successes, celebrate our lives, and keep our friends, family, and colleagues in the loop, there is a yin to every yang. In other words, there can be too much of anything – and, yes, this even includes “visibility.”
Ego. The three-letter word that just about every spiritual practice or personal development system tells us to try and let-go of and transcend.
Often associated with traits like arrogance, conceit, competitiveness, condescension, and judgment, these attributes typically mask a person’s low self-esteem or the smallest version of themselves.
Let’s face it, few people would describe someone with a big ego as pleasant, and few people who exhibit these traits seem happy, so it’s a wonder why so many big egos exist at all. Yet, they do – all around us.
So, how on earth are we supposed to transcend our own egos, when big egos surround us everywhere? They prance around us at work, within our communities, all over social media, and even within our own governments and families.
How are we supposed to ‘keep up’ without building a big ego of our own?
Have you ever noticed how easy it is for us to discern what we would do in another person’s shoes, yet at the very same time, struggle with a decision of our own? Why is it so easy to see things with complete clarity when it comes to a situation outside of ourselves, and in the same moment, feel foggy about a situation presented within our own lives?
Whether dealing with a big decision related to a career, or contemplating what to do within a particular relationship, knowing what’s best can get tough when personal feelings cloud our perspectives.
Let’s face it, we simply don’t have the same emotional attachment to other peoples’ choices or dilemmas as we do to our own. So, the easiest way to get past the haze of our own emotions, especially when it comes to major decisions, is to tap into the wisest part of ourselves -- our intuition.
So, how do we establish a strong connection with our intuition? Here are some helpful tips for accessing it:
A few years ago, I took a big leap. I left a field that I knew for my entire career. It brought me many successes, and my future was looking bright. Yet, something was missing for me, and I was ready to take a chance and branch out on my own.
I felt like I was starting over – I was facing a vast unknown that could either succeed or completely fail. Since then, I’ve experienced quite the roller coaster ride. There have been some incredibly exciting highs and plenty of tiring lows.
Regardless of the ups or downs, I’ve continued to stick with a master plan, which is to consistently plug away at mastering my craft. And, you know what I’ve come to learn? The concept of trust isn’t just important when we take that initial leap of faith. That’s just the starting point.
Trust becomes even more important after the adrenaline, excitement, and hype of our first big decisions wear down. Trust is the only thing that keeps us connected with whatever is possible; especially, when we confront challenges, lulls or situations that just don’t quite pan out as we expected.
In a proverbial sense, trust creates a vast invisible web of opportunities. And, when we remember to honor it, we loosen our grip from what “has to” happen, and exchange it for possibilities that we could have never dreamed of on our own.
In the time it took me to jump off a giant career cliff and build a steady, successful coaching business, I’ve learned a thing or two. The overarching theme of it all boils down to giving the world some damn space to deliver what we want.
In anticipation of Mother’s Day next month, I have a simple question.
What do you think would happen if we treated ourselves like our own moms treat us, or better yet, how might we treat ourselves differently, if it were more like how we treat own children?
If we did, I think we’d probably all live more joyful, stress-free and purposeful lives.
Think about it, the most nurturing mothers not only love and accept their children, no matter what, they also always see their children’s value.
I’ve often laughed at my own mom for openly pointing out my strengths and boasting about my successes, big or small. I’ve shrugged off her words with thoughts like, “of course you’d say that mom – that’s because I’m your daughter.”
But then I remember an important fact.
My mom has been with me from the beginning. Like it or not, she knows me better than most people – the good, the greatest, the bad and the ugly.
Yet, she chooses to always make room for the best version of myself. And, quite frankly, if we could all do the same for ourselves, I think we’d all experience much more inner peace.
So, what can we learn from our moms, and how can we model their behavior to benefit ourselves?
Most of us enjoy the connection we have to all of the things that are going well in our lives. And, why wouldn’t we? Our own responses and actions to the people, places and things we interact with, each and every day, deserve the utmost credit when it comes to our wins.
In the same vein, we are also deeply connected to all of things we don’t like. Yet, many of us would prefer to escape these sorts of accreditations, and replace them with blame. Blame of the people, places and things that cause us to react in the very ways we don’t like. In doing so, we simply remove our most powerful mirrors, which when noticed, reflect some of life’s most profound personal lessons.
To notice our reflections in all situations, whether we label them as ‘likes’ or ‘dislikes,’ we need to move past our own victimization and finger pointing in order to see the lessons. The lessons guide us with the most accurate compass for action. They teach us more about ourselves, as well as how we can personally impact change, by assuming accountability for what’s happening in our own worlds.
When we become personally responsible for what happens to us, we empower ourselves to make a unique impact within our own lives, and also with the world at large. So, where do we find ourselves in life’s mirrors, and how can we learn from their most valuable reflections?
As a career and executive coach, I’ve spent hundreds of hours working with many clients who have dealt with, or are on the verge of burnout. I’ve also dealt with burnout myself, and I can speak firsthand about how draining, disappointing and frustrating it is.
Burnout is typically addressed with a focus on what individuals can do to avoid it themselves. And, while these types of approaches are helpful, there’s still more to the burnout equation. So, let’s face the elephant in the room. A person’s ability to create healthy work habits, involves her/his company’s support.
This begs an important question – how can employers take more responsibility for providing healthy work environments? To assist with some answers, I’ve written a letter. It’s addressed to companies who could benefit from learning why their most valued employees may be on the verge of burnout.
If you think your company is ready to have an honest dialogue about what it will really take to minimize burnout and turnover, then feel free to adjust this for your own use. I double-dog dare you.
As the year comes to an end, many of us are contemplating what’s next. What could the following year look like? Perhaps some big ideas involving personal transformation, or professional shifts, are on our radars.
We might even be asking ourselves questions like, “what if I actually took steps towards making these things happen?” And, just as our ideas begin to present themselves as possible realities, something else may happen, too. Our stomachs might suddenly start to drop from nervousness and fear.
At this point, we could find ourselves abandoning our ideas altogether, only to store them in that mental compartment called “wishful thinking.” And, if we are honest with ourselves, this wouldn’t be the first time. The outcome? Fear wins.
So, how might it look if we conquered our fears and pursued our biggest goals? I get it, fear is a real thing – it causes us to second guess ourselves, and doubt everything else. It’s no wonder fear has the power to hold most of us back from pursuing the things we want. Yet, we all have the capacity to overcome our fears – and the most successful people do.
When we attempt to avoid discomfort, we actually make things even more uncomfortable than they have to be. Sometimes all it takes is one uncomfortable conversation to solve a problem, or better yet, implement a brilliant idea. The bottom line is that our ability to get comfortable with discomfort, not only raises our own effectiveness; it also separates true leaders from followers.
True leaders are willing to confront discomfort with ease, while those looking at the back of their heads would prefer to uncomfortably shy away from discomfort. So, what are the signs that you, or someone you know, chronically avoids discomfort and how do others perceive it? Here’s a list of what I like to call, the all too common “discomfort avoiders”
Why is it that so many people in today’s world view hard work as the antitheses to success? In the eyes of many, it seems like unless you are off sailing the world, lying on a beach, playing tons of golf, and living a life of leisure, you might actually be failing. So, what’s the result of this type of thinking? And, better yet, how successful is it in, well, actually achieving success?
I often come across people on an ongoing quest to accumulate wealth, while limiting their involvement with actual work. Their ultimate goal is to live life to the fullest by avoiding too much responsibility that comes with the word. So, what happens next? Well, quite often, these same people end up calling a career and executive coach, like me, feeling “stuck.”
A common theme amongst many ancient philosophers and spiritual leaders is the concept of connectivity as a pathway to creativity. In other words, when we feel deeply connected to something, then we allow it to inspire and empower us at the same time. Yet, when we separate ourselves from these same things, we instead, exacerbate our own feelings of isolation and dis-empowerment – a tough space for anyone to experience much of any creativity.
Now, just think of how differently we might show-up in both our personal and professional lives, if we made an effort to actually view our problems as a part of ourselves, instead of trying to separate ourselves from them? Better yet, how might the world start to look if we fearlessly chose to step inside of our problems?
Picture it. You’ve been prepping for a third interview for quite sometime, and you are really excited to shed your knowledge and discuss future possibilities with an exciting company that really interests you.
In fact, the rest of your week revolves around the outcome of this meeting – you’ve placed a myriad of tasks on-hold, and you’ve even waited to schedule some personal appointments before gaining a better understanding for what’s next with this potential employer. Then, last minute, your interview is unexpectedly canceled. There you are left with a new void on your calendar and a preoccupied mind that was planning on a much different outcome for the day.
So, now what? It makes perfect sense that many of us might feel a little disappointed and even impatient with this type of situation. This could cause things to go one of two ways: either the rest of the day will unravel from a state of powerlessness, or we will empower ourselves to seize the day, no matter what.
An amazing thing happens when we notice that we are working hard, yet we still feel excited, motivated, and in a complete flow with our actions. In those moments, our biggest causes transcend our efforts and feel effortless. There’s a great saying, “If you want to be happy, put your effort into controlling the sail, not the wind.” In other words, when we channel our efforts toward the things that we can personally control — namely ourselves — then we flow with less resistance and a heck of a lot less conflict. This requires accepting whatever we are experiencing. So, how can we ride that wave of effortlessness more often?
So, the question isn’t really whether or not we all judge; but rather, how are we doing it? Are we doing it in ways that inspire positive action from ourselves and the world around us, or are we simply making critical judgments about life, ourselves, the world, and the people in it that actually limit us in some way? Are we discerning for ourselves, or just plain being judgmental? Let’s take a look at two common judgments that go beyond self-discernment, and transcend into limiting beliefs that actually block our potential.
Most of us have heard ourselves say it before: “I’m so busy right now that I can’t even see straight.” Without question, there are times in life that are more packed with “to-dos” than others. At the same time, many of us have allowed the concept of busy to surpass being an occasional experience. Now, it’s a key part of our personal identities.
Just think about the phrase “I am busy,” which goes far beyond a mere observation about what a person is experiencing, and becomes a personal declaration of one’s state of being. When put into these terms, we might feel more compelled to ask ourselves, “Is busy the extent of who I really am?” Surely, we can all come up with something a little more creative, not to mention more accurate, for ourselves than that.
Recently, I was interviewed by Hilary Hendershott on Profit Boss Radio about how our attitudes inevitably shape the way we experience money. Our money beliefs form early in our lives, and they typically are tied to our upbringings. Once you understand what’s behind these beliefs, you can challenge those that are holding you back.
At every energy level, there are unique core thoughts, feelings, and actions that affect our experiences. Let’s look at the seven different forms of energy that filter our perspectives on money. Which energy level filters your money views?
Often, we find ourselves hyper-focused on all the things we don’t want — “I don’t want to fail,” “I don’t want this to go badly,” or “I don’t want to make a fool of myself.” Yet, doing this unwittingly steers us down the very paths we’d prefer to avoid. Why?
Because we aren’t widening our perspectives to see new possibilities of what we actually do want. The difference is this: “Don’t wants” focus our energy on driving us away from the things we don’t like, while “do wants” actually steer us toward the things that excite and motivate us.
Now that we are in a New Year, many people are looking to form new habits and develop new possibilities. During this process, we may notice areas of our lives where we feel really stagnant or stuck. Discovering areas of dormant energy during a process of change is incredibly common. Why? Because when we take steps to transition towards new endeavors, we often need to confront the old patterns and beliefs that once organized our lives.
January is not only a great time to make goals, it’s also a great time to ride a wave of fresh perspective to actually get those wheels in motion. So, for those of you who are feeling motionless within a particular career path, or are contemplating whether or not to make a big change this year, here are five helpful steps for getting in gear.
All too often, our culture subscribes to the “positive thinking” remedy in order to rationalize situations to make them sound better than they really are. This helps numb the pain of challenging situations, so we can feel slightly better about ourselves as we experience them. However, the danger of disguising painful wounds with positive masks is that it disconnects us from our true feelings, which when actually acknowledged, have the greatest power to guide us to the most conscious choices and values-based decisions.
Unless we really believe in our positive thoughts, fixating on finding the positive in each and every situation, whether our true feelings subscribe to them or not, actually creates more stuck energy for ourselves than progress. In fact, it is the truth, whether positive or negative, that provides us with the greatest compass to create change and progress.
As a career and success coach who has worked with all sorts of clients at various stages throughout their professions, I’ve seen major differences between clients who have made breakthrough transformations from our partnership and those who simply had a nice experience from our time together. While the latter shows up and goes through the motions of each meeting, tool, and exercise, the former takes things a few steps further by enthusiastically engaging in our sessions and making them purposeful for practical implementation into her everyday life.
Unlike other “helper modalities,” where the helping professional is the authority — like therapy, mentoring, and consulting — in coaching, both the client and coach work together as a team. In other words, the client takes the reins of her own life and collaborates with the coach, who helps guide the process of getting her from somewhere functional to somewhere exceptional.
At the end of the day, those who benefit the most from coaching understand that the power of the partnership is all in the alliance they build with their coaches. So, if you are about to work with a coach, who is sought-out by you individually or by your company, I recommend you ask yourself the following key questions before you invest any time or money.
As professionals, typically we don’t pay much tribute to emotions. In fact, this word is more likely to have a negative connotation than anything else — phrases like “you are getting too emotional,” or “it’s business, not emotion,” come to mind when we think about accessing our feelings at work. After all, nobody wants to work with the volatile person in the office who is labeled “overly emotional,” right?
On the other hand, emotions have an innate power to signal to us at deeper levels. If we have the courage to confront feelings with honesty before we take action, we can actually empower ourselves to make more informed decisions. These decisions, in turn, will bring us better results that align with who we are, as well as what we really want.
So, why does the mere term of “marketing” generate stress and overwhelm for so many people? Why do so many of us have angst when it comes to actually converting brand onlookers into real customers? With so many promotional avenues right at our fingertips, it’s no surprise that many of us feel a little stifled with where to begin, and in the process, we often overcomplicate marketing by forgetting its root principles.
So, how do we heighten our awareness to ultimately connect to what many people call a universal power? What’s the magic pill, so to speak? For some, the answer might be a tough pill to swallow. Establishing a sincere connection with yourself, and consequently, your spiritual and external existence, has less to do with the seminars you are attending, the coaches and healers you are visiting, or the personal growth books you are reading. Getting “connected,” both in practical and spiritual terms, involves shifting mere philosophies into real life practices (which is easier said then done), and making a personal effort to actively participate in building the life you desire. All of this requires that you get over yourself.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is for us to discern what we might do if we were in another person’s shoes, yet at the very same time, struggle with a decision of our own? Why is it so easy to see things with complete clarity when it comes to a situation outside of ourselves, and in the same moment, feel foggy about a situation presented within our own lives? Whether dealing with a big decision related to your career or contemplating what to do in a particular relationship, knowing what’s best for yourself can be tough when personal feelings cloud your perspective.
So, how do we establish a strong connection with our own intuition? Here are some helpful tips for accessing your internal voice of wisdom...