Inspiration Meets Sandstone

cave3

“Far better to live your own path imperfectly than to live another’s perfectly.” ~ Bhagavad Gita

This is a short, meaningful read.

Ra Paulette is an amazing confluence of passion, creativity, inspiration and living at choice. He is proof that people can follow their chosen path, as unique as it may be.

At 69, Ra demonstrates that even when we play, our efforts and contributions can stir the hearts and imaginations of others. To say the man has a vision might be an understatement.

For 25 years Ra has been axing, sanding, and forming exquisite sandstone caves in Taos County, not far from where I live in the New Mexico High Desert.

Following is a CBS video of Ra and some of his work. Or is it really work? If you enjoy being inspired and awed, sit back and enjoy this 5.5 minute story.

cave2cave

If you’re looking for the intersection of your passion and how it might inspire others, consider these three actions:

 

  1. Change your story. We all tell ourselves about who we are, what we’re capable of, and what we believe we deserve. If you can dispel your self-limiting stories, you can begin to write new stories grounded in courage and action.
  2. Nurture the nudge. You have inspirations and opportunities coming at you every moment. Start to nurture these inspirations by following through on the insights.
  3. Embrace your natural abilities and use them in new ways to bring excitement into your days. Embrace your strengths by reflecting and acting on them.

Untethering

“If experience is the best teacher, there’s nothing that comes close to the experience of life.” ~ Michael A. Singer

I’ve not discovered a cure for a major disease nor have I invented something that radically changes how we live. And it’s probably fair to say that neither have you. Still, we are significant; why else would we be here? Each of us is making a contribution to humanity simply by living in full expression of who we are. For whatever or however you are contributing, I honor and respect you!

Life is about continuous progress; the ability to move forward and achieve your own version of greatness. To get there, however, some of us need to let go of things from our past and listen to our inner voice that can urge us toward a space that seems both unclear and at times, crazy.

When we listen to our voice we begin to imagine and dream about following this higher knowing and the possibilities that lie ahead. Sometimes though, when we start to believe in such prospects, the ego-mind interjects itself and we find ourselves doubting our dreams and desires. And we retreat. You’re familiar with this, right?

So, why do we self-sabotage? One reason for inaction can be understood when an individual not progressing is viewed as part of a larger social situation. When one has to marshal the herd and get others to move, there is some risk that accompanies that. It is much easier to not lead the way, blend into the crowd, and wait for somebody else to assume the risk and be responsible. In social psychology this is called the “bystander effect.” But when others are not involved, it becomes justly about you.

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If you are On A Verge, listening to your inner voice, perhaps sensing opportunity and an associated need to untether, these considerations are important to remember:

  1. Appreciate what you have. Rather than focusing on what you think may be missing from your life, reflect on that with which you are blessed. It’s too easy to look at the people you surround yourself with and want what they have. Just because someone has material possessions doesn’t mean s/he is internally happy. Be grateful for what is most important to you instead of what you perceive as lacking.
  2. Take full responsibility. Near always, you are responsible for the quality and condition of your life. Sometimes we choose to do nothing when we get hit hard because it’s just easier (and less painful) that way. But disappointment is often only deferred. You have to live with that inner voice that says you didn’t try hard enough in pursuit of your dreams/desires. It’s your choice to plow through and keep moving forward.
  3. Do one simple thing. To move forward; start moving. One step, small steps, in the direction of your goal or vision is progress. Determine one (simply one!) area of your life where you have wanted to move forward. Spend time visualizing what it would take to get you started. And act! Take that first step. Then, move on to the next step.

Hoeing Your Passion Row

 “It is the soul’s duty to be loyal to its own desires. It must abandon itself to its master position.” ~ Rebecca West

Passion, to me, is a vivid word. It conjures many images and is significant in the creation of exceptionalism. Great musicians, stunning artists, gifted athletes, extraordinarily accomplished business people, revered leaders, and compassionate social entrepreneurs (among others) all share the passion trait. They have influenced the world, they’ve stood out, and their achievements are frequently admired.

Yet according to a recent survey, nearly 75 percent of the population do not know what their true passion is. And yes, the word “true” is open to interpretation. Still, to me, this says a lot of people are not doing what they are meant to do. Perhaps this contributes to why there is considerable discontent in society.

Finding one’s true passion is not as simple as it seems. For some it comes easily but for many, it requires some inner reflection (and serious questioning) to identify what you were born to do.

I spent a quarter century working in corporate settings. What I did came easily to me and it yielded a comfortable lifestyle. But as I have shared before, I wasn’t thrilled with what I was doing to earn a living. When I focused on people who were upbeat about their lives (and often their work), I knew I wanted to learn what made them passionate.

Pursuing what you love is great advice but it’s not always a simple exercise. This because it’s a process. For simplicity sake (and to reign in the word count), here are six questions you can ask yourself early in the passion exploration process:

  • What do you find doing to be easy?
  • What do you like to talk about?
  • What lights your inner fire?
  • What puts a smile of your face?
  • What would you do for free? (My favorite question.)
  • What would you regret not having tried?

Many of us have a sense, if not some clarity, about what we love doing. If you’re interested in finding your passion(s), here are four steps you can take:

  1. Talk to people who know you well. They will have insights to help you identify what you most love and do well, naturally. Ask them for their ideas and guidance on what aligns best with their view of your passions.
  2. Start saving money. Try not to let financial pressures dictate your choices. Once you feel strongly that you want to pursue your passion, start saving. A lot. The more you have saved, the less finances will rule your decisions. And the less frightening it will be when you venture outside your financial comfort zone.
  3. Acknowledge epiphanies. Life-changing experiences can present out of the blue. Your passion could be illuminated through major events or in quiet, reflective moments as you ponder change.
  4. Don’t rush or force awareness but when your imagination is sparked, act. Keep your mind open to new ideas that can present simply through new activities and/or everyday interactions.

Positive change can be stressful, even frightening. Consider flowing with the process and experiences. As you hoe your row, your passion will reveal itself – in due course.

Work-Life Balance…Or?

“When you’re gone would you rather have your headstone say, ‘He never missed a meeting.’ Or one that said, ‘He was a great father.'” ~ Steve Blank

Cultures are often ripe with buzz words; expressions that are easily thrown into everyday discourse. In my work, one I hear frequently is work-life balance. It’s a noble (and I might add for some, necessary) pursuit, one which many people feel compelled to achieve. Yet what is that balance? Is it attainable? And is it important?

In an April 2013 TEDxPSU Talk, Speaker and Author Dan Thurmon advocates for an interesting alternative to work-life balance. I’ve inserted the video of his presentation below yet I thought it worthwhile to highlight some of the points he makes.

Mr. Thurmond believes it is okay to be “off balance.” In fact, he acknowledges that state of being as reality. Rather than striving for balance in our lives, he encourages functioning in an imbalanced world and instead, living “on purpose.” And by “on purpose” he means becoming more connected to what has meaning, learning new patterns, experimenting, exploring and experiencing. Thurmond believes we need to be “off balance” to learn and he gives some examples.

He further suggests we slow down and notice things. (Awareness!) He talks about the need to understand what matters most in our lives and what is personally purposeful to you.

Thurmond believes we never reach our full potential, that we are always growing. To continue learning and growing he challenges people to lean into their uncertainty (yes, that fear-filled space where many are hesitant to go). He believes people ought to do more to embrace opportunities and in the importance of being fully present.

He speaks a language I understand. I’d just not previously seen the merits of intentionally living “on purpose” as an alternative to expending energy trying to achieve and sustain (an elusive?) work-life balance. Besides, not everyone seeks the holy grail of work-life balance.

In my opinion, Thurmond’s perspectives are worthy of consideration. Following is his TEDxPSU Talk if you’re interested in learning more.

Encore!

“We can change the world… Rearrange the world. It’s dying – to get better.” ~ Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young)

They were a folk-rock super group. All four members of CSNY pre-dated the baby boomer generation by only two or three years. Yet they were part of ‘our’ generation. 🙂 People related to their musical social commentary. Every now and then they get together for a gig and people still pay to hear their message.

But I digress.

This week’s Awakening to Awareness radio show (podcast here) explored the rapidly growing Encore Movement and the encore concept. My guests were Amy Duggan, Executive Director, Center for Nonprofit Excellence (United Way Central New Mexico) and Barbara “BJ” Jones, an Encore Innovation Fellow. Their bios are available online via the above link.

In 2011, Amy launched the CNM Encore Fellowship Program and in 2013 an Encore Innovation Project to bring encore led capacity building to grantees (associations, organizations) addressing education, health, and self-sufficiency.

                    Amy Duggan

Amy Duggan

                Barbara "BJ" Jones

Barbara “BJ” Jones

“BJ,” an Encore Innovation Fellow, is undertaking a one year pilot program with the CNPE to develop a sustainable year-round structure for increasing Encore talent engagement (people over age 50) to further UWCNM’s Community Impact agenda. Redefining retirement, Encore programs align baby boomer skills and talents with nonprofit agencies across communities.

There are amazing ways in which ‘win-wins’ are being created between passion, purpose and community involvement. The Encore Movement is a growing network, nationally and internationally. Never before have there been so many ways for people aged 50+ (the “chronologically gifted”) to re-engage, contribute, and in many cases, earn a paycheck! As one encore.org Purpose Prize winner said, “Engaging in your community inhibits the aging process.”

To learn more about related opportunities, consider listening to the podcast, reading the Encore Career Handbook by Marci Alboher, or going to the Encore web site.  It’s a fascinating world out there for those who may wondering, “what’s next?”

Marketing Your Own Business

                           Craig Duswalt

Craig Duswalt

“The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something.” ~ Seth Godin

In early November, I posted about an Ewing Murray Kaufmann Foundation statistic that found in 2011, individuals aged 55 to 64 accounted for nearly 21% of new entrepreneurs in the U.S. Obviously, not all Baby Boomers are quietly drifting to society’s sidelines! On this week’s Awakening to Awareness radio show my guest, Craig Duswalt, made it clear that Encore Entrepreneurs (people approaching or recently retired) are learning how to and launch(ing) new businesses. You can read Craig’s bio and listen to the show podcast via this link.

Creator of the “RockStar System for Success,” Craig shared how he teaches and trains thousands of people to transition from what they have been doing to earn a living (a.k.a., a job or career) into building new businesses. These efforts, not surprisingly, are often aligned with people’s long-held passions.

With a professional background in Marketing, Music, and Advertising, Craig is now a very successful speaker, an author of several books, and a radio show host. He also conducts a twice yearly, 3-day, RockStar Marketing Boot Camp every March and September in Los Angeles. Craig explained how his “system” guides people through structured approaches to plan a new business, develop a brand, write a book, host a radio show and much more through his “RockStar” tools and programs.

Craig also leads a diverse, proactive Mastermind of 120 people who are at various stages of becoming or excelling as entrepreneurs. His Mastermind members range in age from 25-80, yet he acknowledged chronological age as being a non-issue when it comes to reinventing one’s self. Craig himself (at 52) is testimony to “living his dream” and he teaches others how to do the same. His latest (soon to be bestselling) book “Welcome to My Jungle” is due for release in May 2014.

If you are interested in learning more about this inspiring individual, visit Craig’s web site (here). His next RockStar Marketing Boot Camp will be held on March 20-22.

Perhaps you have the desire to explore a new business, even a small venture, for yourself. Could this be a timely learning opportunity?

You: A Social Entrepreneur

“Humanity’s greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.” ~ Florence Nightingale

It varies for each of us. As we age… as we become more aware… as we gain clarity and our hearts become emboldened, we shift from thinking and dreaming to taking action on issues that are of value. And the number of us who are discovering the world of social entrepreneurship is growing.

Florence Nightingale may have been a pioneer in this field. Regarded as the founder of modern nursing, she was an early believer in the power of someone with a good idea who chose to tackle not just a social problem, but also the forces that cause such problems.

Having coined the term “social entrepreneur” in the 1980’s, Bill Drayton saw the value in collaborative entrepreneurship. Today he has infected many with his vision of a society where everyone is a change-maker; where everyone knows they can fix the issues at hand instead of merely pointing to them.

Back in October I had a guest (Dr. Bob Grassberger) on the Awakening to Awareness Radio Show. Much of what Bob and I discussed was the emerging field of Encore Entrepreneurs, a rapidly growing cohort among recent retirees. We briefly touched upon the world of Social Entrepreneurship. But the latter is happening! Interest in the movement is catching on like wildfire with Baby Boomers.

So what is it? Social entrepreneurship is an innovative blend of social action and entrepreneurial strategies. They can take the form of for-profit businesses dedicated to social change. Others are non-profit organizations paying their own way with income-earning enterprises. And some are (retired!) professionals in (recent) private practice who offer their services pro bono to people in need.

As a Coach, I’ve championed and challenged Social Entrepreneurs to new heights of learning and achievement. I’ve worked with them to see and tap their vision, wisdom, and potential, especially in early stages of their ventures. Knowing that these people are helping others change the ways they sustain their lives and communities, and how they are using their social skills to better humanity is incredibly fulfilling collaboration.

Social entrepreneurs achieve the seemingly impossible every day. If you are interested in ‘playing,’ here are three early considerations:

  • Don’t go big. Many social entrepreneurs often believe “going national” classifies their project as “big league.” Yet having minimal presence and surface impact across many states is ineffective. Deep impact in one area is far more impressive, and impactful.
  • Know the need. Classic questions: Who is your market? What void is your product or service filling? Products for the poor must not only satisfy a material need but also an emotional or psychological one. Study and understand the needs of the constituency you intend to serve, first.
  • Recognize your own abilities. Know your capabilities; ask yourself what you can offer and what actually lies within reach. Dream big but not at the cost of being realistic. These are fundamental acknowledgments when deciding how you are going to implement/execute and accomplish your goal.

Encore Careers

 

For the boomer community (as well as GenX’rs!), my next Tuesday (10/29/13) Awakening to Awareness Radio Show is sure to stimulate your interest buds. If you want to learn how to navigate seemingly endless “what’s next” choices and seek more information about the show, click here and then tune in at 8:00pm Eastern time (U.S.).

The show and my guest will address what you can begin to think about as you approach life’s “Third Act,” as well as how to tap into vast resources that are available to you for your consideration and future planning.

Exciting News!

“It is not until you awaken and become fully present that you will realize that you have not been present. It is not until you awaken that you will realize you have been asleep, dreaming that you are awake.” ~ Leonard Jacobson

 

From my desk, with clarity and a vision, I announce the debut of my Internet Radio Show, Awakening to Awareness. Broadcasting live on the RockStar Radio Network http://rockstarradionetwork.com , it will air every Tuesday evening from 8:00pm to 9:00pm Eastern (U.S.) time. You can learn more about the show by visiting the network website or by “tuning in.” If the time slot isn’t convenient, you can listen to full podcasts (which will be available on my show web page) any time, for up to one year post-show.

Awakening to Awareness intends to provide “chronologically gifted” people (a.k.a. Baby Boomers) with timely information as they approach or are transitioning into life’s Third Act. By focusing on passions, possibilities, and purpose, listeners will learn ways in which to embrace choice, gain clarity about their intentions, and shift their life from traditional measures of success to one of greater significance.

Excepting its debut (when, as the host, I’ll ‘fly solo’), each week will feature a guest who will share wisdom with the target audience – Baby Boomers. They may be a generational resource, a subject matter expert or someone who offers products, services and/or information of value to this cohort.

I’d love to have you listen to the show, even if you’re not a boomer. There will be plenty to share and learn. Equally important, your show feedback and topical suggestions will be most welcomed.

Finding Your Life’s Work

“Our purpose, I believe, is not a thing, place, title, or even a talent. Our purpose is to be. Our purpose is how we live life, not what role we live. Our purpose is found in each moment as we make choices to be who we really are.” ~ Carol Adrienne

I have just found a quote that well expresses one of my life philosophies. Thank you, Carol Adrienne.

As many will attest, sometimes it takes the better part of our life to discover our life’s work, even though we may have been doing it our whole life without necessarily realizing it. Our life’s work is not always what we do to make money, although we often think it should be, and sometimes this way of thinking prevents us from seeing clearly what it is. It may be the work of having children, caring for them, and running a household. The way we know our life’s work is by how we feel when we are doing it.

You know these feelings. When you are doing your life’s work, you feel an uncanny sense of ease and alignment (see related post). This doesn’t mean that work is always easy, and it doesn’t mean that it’s the only work we have to do; it just means that there is a deep conviction within us that tells us we are in tune with our innermost self. When we are engaged in our life’s work, our bodies feel more alive because our energy is feeding us. You may be tired after engaging in your life’s work, but rarely are you depleted. You feel grounded in the world, knowing that you belong here and have something important to offer.

Most of you remember a time when you felt fully engaged in some act of work, service or creativity, and it is here that you may discover the work you are meant to do now. On the other hand, it may be time for you to explore what inspires you through volunteering, taking a class, going back to school, or just doing whatever it is you long to try. Each of you have callings. When you find them, you owe it to yourself to nurture them, because while they may or may not be your livelihood, they are keys to your well-being.

No flash-in-the-pan here people. This is a process. As you continue to explore your life’s calling, keep these points in mind:

  • Be patient. It takes time. Life is a question that never ends. You may not know right now and that’s okay. Can you let go of needing to know and instead accept the fact that it may take some time for you to figure things out?
  • Ask for guidance. You don’t have to do it all by yourself, especially when you don’t know where you’re going. Ask for patience and strength. Something greater, stronger, and wiser than you is always here.
  • Find purpose right here and now. What’s crazy is that we’re always looking for passion and purpose somewhere else. It’s here; you’re living it now – even if you’re searching for greater significance in your life and calling. If you haven’t yet found those things that speak strongly to you, try focusing on how you can bring presence into your current being.