Doing Deep Work

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“It’s all about falling in love with yourself and sharing that love with someone who appreciates you, rather than looking to compensate for a self love deficit. “ ~ Eartha Kitt

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A vision quest is a rite of passage in some Native American cultures. It is usually undertaken by young males entering adulthood. Individual indigenous cultures have their own names for their rites of passage. “Vision quest” is an English umbrella term, and may not always be accurate or used by the cultures in question.

Among Native American cultures who have this type of rite, it usually consists of a series of ceremonies led by Elders. The process includes a complete fast for four days and nights, alone at a sacred site in nature which is chosen by the Elders for this purpose. Some communities have used the same sites for many generations. During this time, the young person prays and cries out to the spirits that they may have a vision, one that will help them find their purpose in life, their role in community, and how they may best serve the People.

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I am not a young male entering adulthood. And a vision quest is not what I will pursue. Yet, I am acutely aware of deeper trials that I need to and am choosing to resolve for myself.

“Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm.” “And the warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.’” ~ Author unknown

Love Yourself More

There is more meaningful work for this warrior. It is time.

The Gift of Growth

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“A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.” ~ Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Growth happens. Whether we encourage and nurture it or it manifests organically.

It’s an unseasonably warm Sunday. The Christmas tree is still up (shame), I’m listening to soothing Chris Botti music and friends in the blogging community are on my mind. As relaxed as one can be, I realize that even in passive settings, awareness can grow.

Eleven months ago I had short-term clarity about what was next on my personal journey. And I shared some of those images in a post. While there were clearly interests to pursue, what wasn’t factored in was how unanticipated growth would parade her way into my new experiences… and what a lovely complement she became.

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Looking back, some of my growth was simply appreciating the wit, the wisdom and the insights of ordinary people, unplanned destinations and in allowing the intimacy of unfamiliarity to ooze into my being. I became more aware of other people, how they presented, the unique gifts they possess, and their openness to connection.

In a recent interview British actor Tom Hiddleston declared, “I suppose I am fascinated by the private vulnerability and the exterior of people.” “I think that’s an essential truth. I sort of quite like trying to find what makes people tick behind the construction of their identity.”

Similarly, Mr. Hiddleston’s intrigue mirrors what I have been exploring lately, by turning my attention inward as well as outward. For me, both seem meaningful facets of growth… considering personas and influence brought by others.

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Some of you may be interested in knowing how vision, vantage and vigor aligned and gave power to some of my warming experiences, outcomes and chance growth:

  • My speech Compassion as a Verb was well received by audiences throughout the Spring contest season. It earned third place at Toastmasters District finals. More importantly, it touched people, profoundly. That impact alone made the process worthwhile.
  • My book “Awakening to Awareness: Aligning Your Life With What Really Matters” was published in December.
  • I succeeded at regularly scheduling and reveling in solitude and spending more time in/with nature. This has done wonders for growth and grounding.
  • Self-teaching/learning Italian has seen slower than expected progress. Yet it continues, unhurried. La pazienza paga.
  • I have traveled more, both domestically (within the U.S. and overseas). And what a balm each of those trips has been.
  • The goal to find a worthy cause, one that would afford a volunteer opportunity presented. It is a global initiative that couples Professional Coaching (on a pro-bono basis) and not-for-profit organizations with the purpose of making a positive impact and supporting safer, healthier, happier and more productive global citizenry. Put simply, it is work that focuses on the betterment of the human condition and on uplifting the human spirit.

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But back to growth… and not so much mine as yours! If you are interested in heightening your awareness around growth, consider these simple actions:

  1. Have a truly deep conversation with someone. Listen! Appreciate what makes other people tick. And learn from them.
  2. Ask questions that encourage others to reveal who they are and where they want to go. They may inspire new growth in you.
  3. Create space where silence is honored. Be comfortable there, whether alone or together. Appreciate the inner stillness and the possibilities that emanate there.

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.

On A Verge

6046440678_d0b67a6518_m“We fear our intuitions because we fear the transformational power within our revelations.” ~ Carolyn Myss

It is documented that dogs have the ability to accurately sense five things: earthquakes, storms, illness, seizures and labor in pregnant women. Having read this I wonder whether dogs know they have these perceiving qualities?

Have you ever sensed you were/are on the verge of something big; something radically different or new? How did that sense make you feel? Invigorated, excited, hesitant, perhaps fearful? I pose these questions as I know I am on the verge of significant life changes. I sense this because I trust my intuition – that inner voice that just knows. This isn’t precognition, clairvoyance, psychic ability or impulse. It’s simply knowing that even in uncertainty, there is vision associated with a new direction and imminent change.

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Some people live for these moments. Others dread them. And there may be an indifferent lot as well. I’m one of the former. When my intuition strongly signals something, I know it’s right and the underlying choices often become strangely easy. It feels healthy; it feels good; it doesn’t feel like I’m forcing anything, there’s not a lot of conflict.

Of all the reasons for people to consider using their gut instincts to make big decisions, this may be the best: It frequently leads to choices and outcomes that are fulfilling; decisions that can improve the quality and trajectory of one’s life.

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If/when you feel you are on the verge of something life changing or perhaps less significant, here are three considerations that may help:

  1. Honor your intuition. Honoring your true self takes great courage. It may not be easy in the short-term to act on what you sense, but what price do you pay by not listening to it? Trust that nothing is revealed to you intuitively if it is not in your highest interest, even if that means making tough choices in your life. However intuition serves you, it is always in service of your well-being.
  2. Value time alone. As you travel the path of intuition, and leave behind aspects of yourself and life that no longer fit, you will need time to be with yourself to help stay grounded in your transition and transformation. Time alone will help to integrate new learning and provide guidance along your way. It will also support you to become comfortable without dependencies on other’s approval.
  3. Take in only what is nourishing. We frequently ignore our inner voice that is continuously providing guidance. We fear what it has to say. Listening to it might strengthen the courage for confrontation or challenge, or leave us with a sense of guilt for not doing so. It’s your voice! You have the ability to listen objectively and absorb what it’s saying compassionately.

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Walking Your Talk

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“Well done is better than well said.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“There is no magic wand, my dear. In this world if you want to accomplish more, you need to do more.” Wise counsel from a mentor some 20 years ago. Her advice was good across the board, whether starting up a business, changing jobs or simply checking a few things off your bucket list.

I was somewhat of a talker then. Reasonably accomplished, I talked a lot about what I wanted to do. Yet, I found myself challenged when it came to fulfilling personal chores, completing deliverables, and planning for what I wanted to do. I was bluffing myself and others. And at some point I acknowledged I wasn’t a doer.

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These days I’m on the other side of that fence. I collaborate with people who choose to plan for their personal development; people who have specific, realistic, small, and manageable goals. In hindsight, what I now see clearly is that an individual’s success is often attributable to designing a living (meaning: breathing/flexible) working plan versus simply thinking and talking about their goals.

Early on I figured out that plans and outcomes are not built on good intentions alone. Positive perspectives help yet intentions lapse when the distractions and demands of the real world present. What I remind people about is that the real work is in making things happen. And for plans and intentions to bear fruit, they require diligence, hard work, vision, application, self-belief, energy and consistency. Plain and simple. Perseverance is essential even if you lapse or come up short on your plan.

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If being successful is an outcome to which you aspire, fairy dust and wishful thinking might make you feel good, but they’re not going to deliver results. I used be a great thinker. A dreamer, too. I am, still. What has changed though, is now seeing these matters through a time, experience and knowledge lens. And we all have this vantage! We simply need to recognize what is practical and applicable in our own frame.

Walking your talk is undeniably doable. In doing so consider these three foci, each which can strengthen and empower your walk:

  1. Banish distractions. Getting past distractions is one of the biggest obstacles to taking more action. It may not be challenging for people with enough willpower but for many, stopping procrastination and focusing requires a lot more effort. Turn off things like your TV and phone more regularly and scale back your usage of social media sites and Netflix. I know I am far more productive absent distractions. Perhaps you, too?
  2. Be a doer. Practice doing things rather than thinking about them. The longer an idea rests without being acted upon, the weaker it becomes. After a few days, details get hazy. After a week, ideas get relegated to a back burner. As a doer you get more done while stimulating new ideas in the process.
  3. Visualize success. This is a tried and true technique. People know the benefits of visualizing their goals. Elite athletes do this all the time. In a similar way, create an image of the outcomes you want and use that for inspiration.

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You As Yoda

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“Learning is finding out that you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, and teachers.” ~ Richard Bach

In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker discovers that he needs help on his journey to become a Jedi Knight. He recognizes that he cannot achieve his true potential without some guidance and training. He needs someone to provide direction and practical knowledge so he can acquire the understanding and skill to use The Force, the energy in the universe, wisely and effectively.

Yoda, who Luke meets on an isolated planet in the galaxy, initially appears to be an unlikely guide for such a momentous journey. Yet Yoda puts up with Luke’s initial insolence and arrogance, takes him under his pointed ears and manages to bring out the Knight that is within him. Yoda demonstrates, as the mentor to mentors, how to give support to a promising individual, how to offer challenges that permit one to learn and grow, and how to provide vision so that the “mentee” gains confidence and, eventually, independence.

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Have you ever been a Yoda to someone? Or perhaps, thought about being a Yoda? There are many ways to support someone who is exploring and willing to discover their true potential: there are teachers, trainers, coaches, guides, and obviously, mentors. These roles are not mutually exclusive.

So what makes a mentor unique? A mentor is an individual willing to become part of a supportive and diverse community of learners, open to sharing experiences, vulnerability, and expertise. A mentor is a person who models the need to continue learning as a life-long adventure. S/he is a person who has learned through success as well as challenge. A mentor realizes that respect is always an earned commodity. And a mentor accepts others in humanity.

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I have been blessed to have had several mentors; individuals who were as honored to support my growth (and at times arrogance), just as I was privileged to receive their tutelage. I’ve also been on the giving side of this relationship. As a mentor, I get to model the professional values and behaviors to those with and for whom I serve. It’s a win-win proposition.

There are many ways to be an effective mentor. If contributing in this capacity is something you might be good at and interested in, here are three ways to consider serving:

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  1. Guide and Counsel. You can serve as a confidant, sounding-board, or personal adviser to your mentee, especially as the relationship grows deeper over time. You may help your mentee understand conflict or explore ways to deal with problems.
  2. Share rather than teach. Mentoring is not about overtly teaching someone everything they need to know. It’s more about building relationships. Sharing from your heart bypasses any resistance and helps a mentee forge their own direction. This ensures they gain the right knowledge within the appropriate context of life lessons like persistence, self-awareness, and diligence
  3. Follow-up. If you’re going to start the process, make sure to be consistent and follow-up. Make arrangements to meet for coffee, phone calls, etc., every couple of months or at a frequency that works for both schedules. Mentoring only works if you do!

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.

Acting Too Quickly

“A man who sees action in inaction and inaction in action has understanding among men and discipline in all action he performs.” ~ Bhagavad Gita

On occasion, I have been known to take a contrarian viewpoint. I will challenge the status quo and frequently seek uniquely different ways of accomplishing and achieving. Credit my innate curiosity and exploratory nature. It’s simply part of how I process. 🙂

Such is the case with me and action, the latter a meaningful part of existence. Action clearly serves a purpose and can gently inspire, as well as actively incite us. Generally, people are encouraged to take decisive action. And often, too quickly. It’s people less inclined to impulsive action who keep a comfortable grip on the action reins.

Acting too quickly can be the cause of many problems. Having been impatient for a good chunk of my life, I know this well. A lot of personal mistakes result from a combination of exuberance and an eagerness to please – to get the job done. Many of us have experienced moving too quickly without taking time for adequate, even thorough, consideration. And then wondered about the outcome.

I have been surprised to find how many times situations will resolve themselves if they are allowed to. I have also been discouraged at how complex some situations have become when I took action quickly to bring something to a resolution before truly understanding what the problem or goal was in the first place.

And then there are those people who will choose inaction simply because it allows them to stay in their comfort zone, to do only what they’re familiar with, even if it oddly yields desired results. But the comfort zone is equivalent to a safe, relatively unproductive state.

We know that a clear vision, flexible plan, and realistic schedule will take you a long way towards successful achievement. But without action, visions are unlikely to materialize. Thoughtful action is prudent. And while some people may argue ‘time is money,’ it is important to assess the need for expedited action.

“Measure twice, cut once” is an old craftsman’s saying. It’s a good idea for life in general. Restated for action, we could say “think twice, act once.” Because premature action can be much more damaging than a measured approach to most any situation.

Consider your actions as carefully as you do your valuables.

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!

Strength in Integrity

“Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.”

~ Brian Tracy

I just finished a three-day Mastermind with a family of amazingly accomplished, forward thinking, and giving entrepreneurs. Collectively, this group possesses and demonstrates a wide-range of enviable qualities and traits, high among them – integrity. It was/is a privilege to be a part of and among them.

A boat with no leaks is said to have integrity, as is a solid piece of furniture. It is their wholeness – no gaps or weaknesses – that gives them their integrity. People who have integrity convey a similar “seaworthiness” and stability. There is the sense that they can be counted on, that their actions will be consistent with their ideals. Just being in the presence of someone with this quality creates a feeling of steadiness even in a chaotic environment. These people are natural, not fabricated or self-perceived, leaders and we sense that it is safe to follow them. We are blessed with notable examples of modern human beings who embodied integrity. Can you name three?

Integrity cannot be self-ascribed. As with true leaders who personify integrity, we can learn first hand the benefits of sacrificing short-term gains in favor of long-term vision – provided the vision benefits others and not one’s self. In a culture obsessed with convenience and freedom, integrity can be a rare quality.

Integrity generates self-confidence and self-esteem. It is never aligned with being self-centered. It is important to take time on a regular basis to examine whether your actions – public and private, your words, and your vision are in alignment. Consider making it a priority to assess any imbalances you find and commit to resolving them. Also, take time, when necessary, to revise your overall life vision to ensure your actions and words support ideals for a larger community or cause greater than your own personal motives.

Integrity cannot be faked. So much of integrity is authenticity, which to many, is something you feel or know intuitively. There are many ways in which to demonstrate integrity. Maybe you’d like to try these:

  1. Live for others ahead of yourself. The root enemy of integrity is selfishness. The Golden Rule requires treating others the way we would like to be treated. Living the Golden Rule boosts personal integrity.
  2. Don’t kowtow. This goes back to being authentic. There’s nothing less authentic than ass-kissing.
  3. Make an excuse board. Put it all out there. Make columns for eating crap, chronically skipping exercise (though allowing for earned rest days), going to bed late, drinking too much, stressing yourself sick, etc. At the end of one month, see how much you’ve excelled at cheating yourself (and possibly others). This can be an effective exercise, even if potentially unpleasant.

To conclude with a light-hearted look at integrity, here’s a fun video . 🙂