What Others Know About You

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“We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.” ~ W.H. Auden

Eleven years ago I met my first Life Coach. It was Jane who saw that my blocks and my direction were closely connected. We worked for some time to rediscover my direction. One early exploratory exercise that Jane invited me to pursue was to ask five people to describe me in short words/phrases.

Some time later I realized the purpose and benefit of this exercise. You see, most of us believe we know ourselves better than anyone else. And to measurable extents, this may be true. Yet when those five people replied with candid feedback, I read and learned of strengths that I did not clearly see or embrace.

There is a lot about us that we don’t notice or acknowledge because it’s simply who we are and how we’ve developed over years and through learning and experience. Yet there are often attributes/personal gifts/qualities that define us as seen (and known) by others!

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There is comfort in knowing how connected you are to your strengths. When confident in/with your personal gifts, you expand the potential by which you can impact others and effect favorable change. If you find yourself resenting what you’re doing or the way you are living, ask yourself if you are utilizing what you believe are your qualities and what others see in and know about you.

Some times tapping into what others know about you (that you don’t fully see) can awaken you to reconnect with a dream, with your heart or perhaps, with a new calling. New self-awareness may even inspire you to let go of what you perceive(d) as a strength, once you’ve adopted an even more valuable virtue(s).

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If the prospect of learning how others see you intrigues, I invite you to consider the exercise I embarked upon eleven years ago. It was revealing and the insight that was shared helped me to consider a new direction (and a more passionate focus!), simply because I sought candid input from people who knew me as well as I believed I knew myself.

Naming your personal gifts is unusual but the more exact the better. It is important in asking for words and phrases (not sentences) from respondents that they be honest, positively and negatively. The preliminary steps:

  1. Choose four people from among immediate family members, a close friend(s), former schoolmate, partner, spouse, colleague, supervisor (past of present). Aim for a mix from among all of these. The fifth source of input is yourself.
  2. Ask each of them (and yourself) to “Describe me as you know me,” “Describe me as you see me,” and/or “Describe me as you remember me.”
  3. Your lists will contain lots of words and phrases. When you have all of them, print (don’t type) them on a table.
  4. If/when you get this far and want to know what follows, let me know; I’ll craft a follow-on post. This involves some time and work. Yet the results can be quite telling. 🙂

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Credit: Child playing piano / M-IMAGEPHOTOGRAPHY via Getty Images

Inspiration Meets Sandstone

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“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.

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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.

Nosey or Curious

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“Curiosity is not an only child; it is part of a family of terms used by writers, scientists, and everyday people making conversation to capture the essence of recognizing, seeking out, and showing a preference for the new.” ~ Todd Kashdan

Yours truly is a curious guy. Always have been. And it has raised eyebrows at times. Some people who are unaccustomed to or uncomfortable with my staying interested and engaged in life have likened my desire to learn more about people, places, things and concepts – to being nosey.

Nosey is being unduly curious about the affairs of others; prying or being meddlesome. Think: Gladys Kravitz, who I am not. 🙂 Cue the proverb, “Curiosity killed the cat” which basically translates: beware of poking your nose into others’ business as it may get you into trouble.

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Some say a healthy curiosity serves us in many ways: It nurtures intelligence, contributes to good health and it often increases happiness. Curiosity is a state of arousal so it needs to be prompted. A spark simply launches the interest. Stimulating curiosity is like lighting a fire; once lit it keeps going and can become all-consuming. It can also be doused, if necessary.

An important facet in developing curiosity is to be open-minded whether in questioning anything in life or a task at hand. Some of us do this naturally and some of us drive people crazy with our open-mindedness. Rarely do we know, for sure, what a willingness to investigate something new and/or investing time in discovering a new interest might yield. Until we do.

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If you don’t consider yourself a curious person (maybe you prefer nosey), perhaps the thought of becoming so is now piqued. It doesn’t matter what you decide to become curious about as long as you have a willingness to explore. It could well make you a smarter and more interesting person. Any qualms with that?

I’m about adding spice to life. Maybe you enjoy bland over spicy. And sticking with your preference is fine. But if recognizing and seeking out the new appeals to you, here are three ways in which to develop curiosity:

  1. Ask questions constantly. One way to dig deeper beneath the surface is by asking questions. What, why, when, who, where and how are great sentence starters when engaging another individual. People love to share their knowledge and opinions so why not inquire? Relentlessly. 🙂
  2. Acknowledge your surroundings as dynamic and interesting. We easily become accustomed to what we see, smell, see and feel every day. Stop, think, and wonder about your surroundings as refreshing in their own way.
  3. Model curiosity. You can do this by exploring others’ passions, expanding on their ideas and engaging them in meaningful dialogue about what matters most, to them.

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Which Are You: 49% or 51%?

Jennifer Marchetti

Jennifer Marchetti

“A lifestyle is what you pay for; a life is what pays you.” ~ Thomas Leonard

In early 2014, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate (BH&GRE) conducted a National Survey of baby boomers to learn their retirement strategies, aspirations, and motivations. 49% of the respondents who felt more confident about achieving an ideal retirement lifestyle, cited their top factor for feeling confident as having a retirement lifestyle plan.

This two-minutes video highlights the survey findings.

As a boomer, the 49% figure does not surprise me. In my work with this generational cohort I have learned that many boomers have not substantively planned for their “retirement.” Thus, the post title. Are you part of the 49%, or one of the 51% who don’t yet have a retirement lifestyle plan? As an extension to this finding I find myself thinking, Why not a lifestyle plan for anyone, at any life stage?

Jennifer Marchetti is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for BH&GRE. She was my guest on this week’s Awakening to Awareness Radio Show. On the program, Jen discussed a wide range of matters significant to boomers including: a new definition for retirement; why boomers are pursuing their passions; two views on empty nesters; how boomers are repurposing their living space and; the amazing optimism of this generation who have served as economic drivers for much of their lives.

Also not surprising, as members of the “sandwich generation,” boomers are strong enablers for following generations. They intend to stay active whether continuing to work, volunteering, returning to school (to learn or teach!), as travelers and/or as emerging Encore Entrepreneurs.

The show podcast is linked here, for those interested in listening.

Physical, Visible, and Humble

Jan Maxwell

Jan Maxwell

“Perseverance, secret of all triumphs.” ~ Victor Hugo

Hailing from Fargo, North Dakota, Jan Maxwell hasn’t shed her humble roots. Those who know and appreciate theater, know Ms. Maxwell. The stage and television screen have been her professional home for decades. Critically acclaimed, Ms. Maxwell made and continues to make a name for herself while being a full-time mom.

What began as a “hobby,” Jan sensed early that she might be able to carve out a modest living as an actress. She enjoyed performing before live audiences and left North Dakota for New York City, unaware of how competitive and demanding her chosen field was and is.

Years later (she’s 57), she has five Tony Award nominations (she’s one of only three women to be nominated in all four acting categories) and countless other industry awards from her peers, yet she’s still Jan from North Dakota, a mom, and a woman who just happens to love her work. And, I’ll add, is very good at it.

Jan was my guest this week on the Awakening to Awareness Radio Show during which she talked about the irony in her profession being called a “play” when in reality, it’s hard work. She spoke about the range of emotions she has to exude while in character; making ‘real-time’ mistakes on stage and how she’s learned and practices “instant forgiveness”; her philosophy on aging and; the importance of perseverance on stage and in life.

When I invited Jan to share one take-away with listeners, she didn’t hesitate and said: “Follow your passion and do it now!”

Our conversation provided a glimpse behind the stage curtain; identified who she believes are the hardest working people in theater and; what she may find herself doing when she chooses to retire from a world many only see on the surface.

If you’re interested in listening to Jan’s thoughtful perspectives, here’s the podcast link.

Live Your Epic Life

                          Byron Davis“Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.”

~ R. Buckminster Fuller

A former American record holder (swimming), an Ironman Triathlete, a career coach and founder of the epic life project, Byron Davis has a gift for helping people get unstuck and to transform their passions into lives and careers they love. Byron is the author of “RePurposed: The Art of Winning Through Letting Your Obstacles Lead the Way.”

He is also a friend and was my guest on last week’s Awakening to Awareness radio show. A sought-after conference speaker, Byron is entertaining to watch and easy to understand. He helps audiences reverse limiting beliefs on the spot and teaches them to use the simple power of personal narratives to quickly establish new habits and activate their God-gifted potential.

In an amazing one-hour conversation Byron shared thoughts on how fear holds people back; his interesting concept on time; why accountability is important for each of us and; how both relationships and systems are essential for moving forward. He also talked about the role storytelling plays in becoming more self-aware and for fulfilling one’s desires and ambitions, as well as why we find some lessons/teachings difficult to receive.

If you’re interested in listening and learning more, here’s a link to the show podcast. Byron is a high energy guy, who has studied human behavior and potential for years. He can be contacted through his web site or here.

A Meaningful Life Trumps

“Life is not infinite, but its potential is. Embrace every second and you’ll triumph over compunction.” ~ Eric Tonningsen

It took years, but I finally figured it out. When you’re not happy, unfulfilled, or not living a meaningful life — you ought to (I really wanted to type must) make a change. If you remain a slave to cultural expectations, and the trappings of money, power, status and/or perceived success, you’ve left a void in your life. I told myself, “If you’re truly unhappy with your job, move on.” “Find a way to pursue your passion and your mission in life.”

So I left a world in which I prostituted myself to shareholders, made good money, traveled the world and had whatever I wanted. What was missing was meaning and significance. And I knew this for some time.

I’m not saying quit your job; you may love your job.  But are you happy? Essentially we are when we get what we want. But when our happiness outweighs the meaning in our lives, something’s disproportionate. I believe happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed life, in which things go well, needs and desires are easily satisfied, and difficult affairs are avoided.

When I decided to step out of my comfort zone and into the unknown it was terrifying and exhilarating; surreal and at times, indescribable. Suddenly, I was accountable to myself. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t that highly confident being. Yet I knew I was heading in the right direction.

Days after I left the traditional workforce, I came across this Joseph Campbell quote. It has guided and inspired me since. “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” To which I have personally added, “…and what you can still be.”

If you are contemplating a major life shift; how you might contribute in more meaningful ways and; how living a life of greater significance might change you — here are three anchoring thoughts as you explore your potential and how realizing it could be beautifully fulfilling.

  1. Figure out what defines you. You’ve dreamed most of your life. You have a vision for ‘what could be.’ It/they can still be achieved. Personally, I have a lot of life left and plans to effect change. Sure, everything won’t work out just as I’ve planned. But I can focus on being ready for whatever opportunities (and challenges) come my way. Dreams and visions can define us, even if they don’t turn out exactly as we hoped.
  2. Question whose approval you are seeking. Like it or not, we’re all sometimes guilty of relying on others opinions to feed our feelings and self-worth. While approval and compliments from others can feel great, seeking them all the time can be unhealthy. They can turn into self-fulfilling cycles of negative feelings. When you start on a self-discovery journey and pursue what you want to do, you take ownership of your life and begin to realize that it matters what you think about you.
  3. You have a right to pursue your passions. Don’t ever let anyone convince you that pursuing your passion is impractical. Passion is what brings meaning and value to your life. The quality of your life experience is directly affected by the pursuit of your passion(s). Don’t allow your passions to drift into the “maybe someday” file. Life is too short to settle for anything less than passionate.

Maybe You Know an Expert

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new beginning.” ~ Carl Bard

This is a rare, off-category post. I’m reaching out to the WordPress community (or at least to you who read this blog) with a request. Many of you know that I host a weekly radio show. The program targets and benefits baby boomers, however its audience is not exclusive to that generational cohort.

Each week I host a guest who, as a subject matter expert, can tell stories, share personal and professional wisdom, provide valuable information and facilitate learning to a global listening community. Many guests have authored books about their expertise, speak publicly about their passionate work or contributions, are accomplished high-achievers, have won awards for their work, and are recognized and appreciated as knowledgable resources.

Perhaps you know someone who has an engaging on-air personality, who can confidently communicate, and who is a boomer or a member of the silent generation. If you do and you believe they would be an inspiring guest – I’d welcome the opportunity to further explore the possibility with them. Please feel free to share their contact information with me or you can have them connect back through this post.

Specifically, I am interested in individuals who can enlighten and provoke thought, and are well-versed in:

  • Food/Nutrition/Diet
  • Exercise/Physical Wellness
  • Travel/Adventure
  • Home Based Business
  • Long-term Care/Elder Care/the Sandwich Generation
  • Retirement Real Estate/Relocation/Adult Communities
  • Entertainment (notice I didn’t say “adult” entertainment)
  • Retiring Abroad
  • Volunteering
  • Continuing Education (especially as a teacher/educator)

I feel uncomfortable soliciting my valued WordPress friends yet I sense that many of you know very talented people. Thanks for allowing me to channel this invitation to and through you and in doing so, provide others with an opportunity to share and shine.

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.

Failure Yields Great Outcomes

“If you are not failing, you are not moving fast enough, close enough, towards your fullest potential.” ~ Larry Broughton

You’ve heard the expression, “The Real Deal,” right? It is frequently used when describing authentic people; those with character. I had the privilege of having a real deal on this week’s Awakening to Awareness radio show. If you were unable to catch the show ‘live’ you can download the podcast and my guest’s full bio, here.

Larry Broughton has lived one of those classic, humble beginnings to award-winning entrepreneur and CEO, stories. And on this show he shared a bit about his unconventional journey to success. Founder and CEO of Broughton Hotels, a leader in the boutique hotel industry; as well as Co-Founder and CEO of Broughton Advisory, Larry is a man who believes in his vision and walks his talk, personally and professionally.

One hour is barely enough time to scratch the surface of anyone’s story. Yet Larry shared valuable insights into what he believes makes each one of us successful. Having presented to, coached, and mentored thousands of current and aspiring veteran entrepreneurs across the U.S., Larry spoke about the importance of mindset, how it is essential to embrace failure and, how fear and failure are actually healthy as they nurture learning and growth.

Larry cited several abilities/qualities that are necessary to be successful entrepreneurs (and individuals!) including:

  • Having a sense of adventure, as did the early explorers who knew there was something else out there;
  • Being crystal clear about what you intend to accomplish and how to achieve desired results;
  • Possessing a strong belief in your vision;
  • Tapping your competence and confidence;
  • Banishing negativity and the “energy vampires” from your life; 
  • Surrounding yourself with brighter, bolder people and having mentors or accountability partners;
  • Undying resolve and;
  • The ability and sense to ask questions. Ask questions!

Larry’s upbeat, creative approach to business and life have been featured in countless newspaper and magazine articles and he’s been a guest on news and TV programs on every major network, including multiple appearances on CNBC’s The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch. In his grounded, inspiring ways, Larry emphasized for listeners: the importance of using one’s strengths; being authentic and transparent and; doing what it is you are great at, to yield clarity and live a successfully integrated, holistic life.

So much wisdom… so little time (on this show) with Larry. While he offered much on which to reflect, my three simple take-aways were:

  1. Get comfortable with the “panic zone”… embrace failure.
  2. “Do good things.”
  3. “Don’t let guilt of the past define you; let it refine you.”

Consider listening to the podcast (linked above). It was a good show!