Tag Archives: Personal development

7 Principles for Extracting the Extraordinary in You

extraordinaryWhat does it take to live an extraordinary life? What would that mean for you on a day-to-day basis?

I was recently reminded of some simple (yet not necessarily easy-to-do) concepts that if installed in your life would place you squarely on the higher road, the road less traveled.

I’m still working on some aspect of each of these myself. It’s a lifelong discipline. Not for the faint of heart, but surely well worth the effort.

1. Be truthful.
Being truthful is about honesty and accuracy. The accuracy aspect is about re-conveying an experience such that your words evoke the thoughts and emotions you experienced in the person you’re sharing with. While each of us has our own perspective of life and interpretation  of events, if your intention is to have them experience what you did, you’re on the right track. No shading of the truth to make yourself look better.

Additionally, the honesty aspect will likely cause you so alter your behavior. You may have heard the phrase, ‘Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the newspaper.’ Living your commitment to transparency encourages good behavior and lack of deception at work and home.

2. Give more than you take.
Give freely of your time, love and money. Give generously and not with the expectation that your gifts will be repaid. Purposeful giving fulfills you. It’s almost like you’re not giving for the benefit of the recipient. Make life easier for yourself and others. Don’t forget yourself. The problem some over-givers encounter is that they deplete themselves in the process and end up feeling resentful.

3. Don’t take what isn’t yours.
This is more than just ‘don’t steal’. It’s about not benefiting from ‘mistakes’. Now I’m all for serendipity and miracles and to be honest, I don’t know that I can tell you how to distinguish between those incidents and the ones that are to be avoided. I think the barometer here may be how you feel internally although the internal barometers of habitual ‘takers’ are probably flawed.

Here’s an example…My husband and I were shopping in a store last week. We bought something together and each paid for half in cash. The cashier gave us both our change back, but it seemed like too much. I didn’t say anything, not sure there was a problem, but the more I thought about it, the more I was pretty sure we got too much change. My mind tried to justify it by telling me ‘It’s a big store. They won’t notice it.’ But my heart felt something else. So I went back to the store, found the clerk and reminded him of the transaction. He couldn’t really validate the error with their sales system and ended up telling me to keep the $5 for my honesty.

I left feeling happier, but I still feel like giving that $5 to someone who needs it more will make me even happier. Think “Pay it forward.”

4. Make the world a better place
Do your actions make life easier for those around you? Is the world a better place because of what you think, do and say each day?

Or do you make people jump through hoops to get your favor? Do you consistently ‘block’ other people’s progress?

How would you behave differently if you knew your purpose was to leave the world in a better place because you lived here? Be constructive. Be helpful.

5. Honor life.
All living beings have the right to their lives. Respect them. This applies to not only to humans (even the ones you don’t like) but to non-human creatures as well. Last summer, I accidentally severed a praying mantis while pruning some plants. I was heartsick as he stared at me mournfully it seemed, with half of his abdominal cavity missing.

While I carefully carry spiders out of my home, I still intentionally kill crickets and scorpions when I find them inside. I guess now, I’ll work on finding some non-lethal way to rid them from my home when I encounter them.

6. Do no harm.
Intentionally ending the life of another (even an ant), when living rigorously, is an extreme measure. But what about the ‘little’ harms we do during the course of life?

Have you ever tried to get someone in trouble at home or work without first discussing the situation with them with the intent to resolve it? Do you gossip?  Do you have nasty, judgmental thoughts about others?

Once I took this discipline on, I had to confront the judgments I made of others. Casting frequent silent aspersions seemed automatic at times. I’ve taken on the practice now of blessing people, especially those my internal judge initially denounces.

7. Recognize that you are the source of everything.
It’s easy to blame others for the status of the world and even for your experience of your own personal life. In the training and coaching I do, I often share the concept of “Those idiots over there…”. When you place blame on your co-workers, spouse, children, parents, siblings, neighbors, strangers, political opponents, you rob yourself of power. You pine for changes in them. You want to ‘fix’ them.

You can’t change them. You’ll never change them. And if you wait for that, you’ll be in misery forever.

The only person you can change is you. The only person who can change the experience of the life you are living is you.

When you shift your thinking, emotional responses and actions, you will start having a new experience of life. Additionally, your new perspective, behavior and words will eventually impact the people around you and their response to you will likely change as well. The dynamic of your relationship will be different.

So stop trying to fix them. Work on improving yourself.

One of my favorite sayings is, “We all have more options that we generally see and more control than we tend to take”. So I challenge you to implement the ideas mentioned here. Open your eyes to options that are currently hidden from your view and take control of the way you live your life.

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5 Keys for Stepping Up to Your True Leadership Persona

stand outMy husband and I recently watched two movies, The King’s Speech and Battleship.

Both depicted characters who were thrust into leadership before they thought they were ready.

Their first reaction was denial, mixed with a hint of resentment, “Why me? Why now?”

Neither thought they were ready nor capable.

Has that ever happened to you?  How did you react?

Regardless of your history, how do you think you’d react now if you wer suddenly handed a huge, visible, critical responsibility?

Whether you’ve just been thrust into the spotlight or are longing for that level of accountability, here are some ideas that will amplify your readiness for the role.

1) Have faith you can do it.
Most people downplay their abilities. Our parents taught us not to boast or brag. We’ve seen other leaders get assassinated (literally or figuratively). Plus, let’s face it, it’s more comfortable for most not to be in the limelight and just carry on with their regular routine.

The truth is, we’re far more capable than we generally believe. It often takes some catastropic event for us to figure out what we’re really made of.

2) Have faith in others.
Don’t try to accomplish mammoth tasks alone. Look for help. Ask for help. Assume help and make requests. You may need to provide some context to your ‘team’ (whether ad hoc, virtual or designated). They need to know the import of what you’re asking them to take on. They need to know what’s at stake. They’ll likely have to step up too.

3) Invest in yourself.
You may need support beyond what your immediate team can provide. The King of England hired a coach/speech therapist to help him with his stuttering. It was a secret arrangement initially and required the King to not be ‘King’ which caused some challenges in the beginning. The King had to set his ego aside and recognize he didn’t have all the answers. He also had to reach deep inside and work on his inner game in addition to his moving mouth parts.

4) Be bold.
This is not the time for timidity. In critical times, big actions are needed. Perhaps you need to stop an impending disaster. Or perhaps, you’re needed to win the big game. Whatever it is, you must go beyond the tried and true. It’s time to innovate.

5) Act, don’t think.
You don’t want to be stupid obviously, but you also don’t want to over-think your decisions. In emergency situations, speed is often the critical factor. Trust your gut. If an idea comes to you, try it out.

Leadership occurs when you put accomplishing the task at hand ahead of your ego and fear.  You have to become a better person than you thought you were. It’s possible. Just step up.

 

The #1 Factor that Contributes to Living a Long Life

I knew I was getting ‘old’ when I realized NPR was my favorite radio station!

Anyway, I was particularly engaged by one interview discussion on a study conducted with octogenarians around the world. One of the significant findings was the revelation of the most important thing that helps people live very long lives.

The guest cited several contributing factors which I will summarize in a bit. But I want to encourage you to imagine what the top factor was.

Here are 5 of the factors:

1) Octogenarians eat largely a plant-based diet
I’ve been moving in this direction recently, striving for ever more veggies, fruits and beans. I must admit though, I’m a carnivore by blood type and the satisfaction that chewing on muscle provides is hard for me to replicate. But I have seen enough other studies confirming this to actually start shifting my intake mix. In this study, fava beans were seen repeatedly as a dietary staple.

2) When they eat meat (once a month or so), pork was the meat of choice
This finding shocked me. Pork has had somewhat of a ‘branding issue’ with a somewhat negative reputation although it’s a staple in our house as my husband has food allergies to many other meat protein sources. However, this is what people who live long around the world  eat.

3) Physical activity promotes longevity
We know this, right? But our lifestyle makes it challenging to get in the physical activity our bodies truly need. Many of us go to the office, sit in front of our computers all day, network at lunches and dinners and then go home. If we’re good, we walk, run, bike, do yoga, workout at the gym, do Pilates or Zuumba.

Around the world though, people have different lifestyles that incorporate movement. They garden and walk frequently. Their lives are done in motion.

4)  Daily napping contributes to a long life
This is another practice that seems challenging, even wasteful to me (the overachieving, always-working-on-something person that I am.) I know the value of getting enough sleep and have begun going to bed earlier at least. But napping in the middle of the day?!?!?

Hmmm. However, evidence shows that getting plenty of rest keeps the body going longer. So take heed.

5) Octogenarians have a supportive ecosystem
People who live long don’t do so alone. They are connected to a social network (no, not Facebook), a live network of real people who know and support them. They get encouragement and love from their families and communities and just as important, give love to their communities.

They have a strong sense of faith and likely belong to a faith-based community. They are connected to others, here and ‘above’.

The top contributing aspect of this supportive ecosystem is having a clear sense of purpose. In many of the communities in which octogenarians prosper, the concept of retirement is non existence. People do their life’s work their entire lives. Even if they have jobs in their earlier years, they have a sense of personal purpose that incorporates, envelops or transcends their wage-earning means. It gives meaning to their lives. It gives them a reason to be here.

So my question to you is, ‘What is your purpose?’ What will keep you going after you’ve ‘retired’? What are you here for? What is so important to you that you would continue pursuing it until your last dying breath?

Take some time right now and write down in large print, your purpose…what your life is about…why you’re on this planet at this time.

Why your life will have mattered.

Then make sure you take action on it every day. And, oh yeah, incorporate the other ideas in this article to live long and prosper.

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5 Keys for Maximizing the ROI on Your Professional Development

If you’re like me, you love to learn. I am always looking for ways to be more of the  best version of me and ways to improve the operation of my business.

The risk that you run with that kind of passion is that you’re consumed with learning, but weak on implementing and it’s implementing that allows you to monetize your investment and create a strong ROI.

Here are 5 things to keep in mind as you strive to improve yourself and your business:

1. Set aside time to integrate what you learned immediately.
When you attend a conference or a class, schedule some ‘down time’ the next day so you can review your notes and plan what you’ll do with your new knowledge.

2. Avoid taking too many classes in close proximity to each other.
It’s likely to take you weeks or months to fully integrate your new strategies into your routine.  Strive to allow sufficient time to assimilate your new knowledge and turn it into improved strategies and actions before piling on more knowledge.

3.  Practice and share your new ‘stuff’ immediately.
Many times people feel tentative when they start implementing something new. That tentativeness is played out by not sharing what you’ve learned with your community.

The longer you wait, the less likely you’ll be to ever implement. So give yourself permission to be a newbie. Try new things. Offer a small group of clients special ‘early adopter’ pricing for your new approach.

4. Make connections.
If you’re attending a live event (virtual or face-to-face), strive to connect with other people who serve your market but offer something to it that you don’t. These are great prospects for building referral relationships or strategic alliances. They will speak the same language as you (having just completed the same learning you did) and hopefully, will be equally motivated to monetize their investment.

5. Get support.
Making changes in your routine is often a challenge especially when you’re trying something new. As you make investment decisions, lean towards programs that offer some ‘post-learning’ coaching or Q&A support. As you implement, you’ll probably come up with questions that you didn’t have as you were learning the material. Follow up support can be invaluable and help you implement more efficiently.

Ongoing training and development is a necessary investment in your future success. You must tackle it wisely however in order to maximize your return. These tips will help you do just that!

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How to Master Your Psychology to Accomplish Your Goals

The primary reasons people don’t reach their potential has little to do with their circumstances and much to do with their personal psychology, the voices in their head that tell them what’s possible for them and what isn’t.

Seemingly well-equipped, well-put-together people sometimes struggle to manifest success. And you probably know or have heard of people who start with ‘nothing’ in life who rise to the highest levels of accomplishment.

What’s the difference between them? Their psychology.

Psychology manifests itself as thought patterns and habits repeated often enough to become automatic. They’re often formed by default in childhood and beyond as we observe and mimic authority figures.

Many of our thought patterns are deigned to safeguard our habits to help us be more efficient and save us time and energy. (Think about the way you habitually shower, brush your teeth and start and operate your car.) If we had to think about each of the individual actions involved at every juncture, we’d exhaust ourselves.

The problem arises when the thought patterns and habits outlive their usefulness or when they are created based on mis-information, solving a problem that doesn’t exist. If you’ve ever made a bad, inaccurate assumption and then acted on it (perhaps for years), that’s a good example of this dynamic at work.

So what’s a body (or mind) to do?

1. Identify the beliefs you have that make you fearful, hesitant and reluctant to take action.
This might take some work since we’re not aware of some of our beliefs and may not have articulated them before. Start listening to the conversations you have about yourself, to yourself as well as the conversations you have about the world.

When you start hearing refrains, things you say over and over, that’s a belief.

2. Challenge what you think
Beliefs are like cow paths. The more you go down them, the more they seem like the only way to go. Don’t assume everything you think is the truth. Practice thinking new thoughts.

3. Recognize that your mind is designed to protect ‘the way it is’
Your thoughts will tend to dissuade you from trying new things. Know that this is a signal that you’re on the right track. Your brain wants to keep things simple and new thoughts and behaviors appear as a threat.

4. Surround yourself with optimistic, supportive people
We rise to the level of the company we keep. If you’re surrounded with pessimistic people who are victimized by the world they inhabit (and have unknowingly created), it will be hard to do the things you need to do to make progress.

When you hang out with successful people, you’re encouraged to be your best (rather than blame the world for your problems). You’ll have access to more and better resources. You’ll be inspired instead of depressed. You will experience a greater sense of possibility and be more likely to try new things. You’ll set goals and actually believe you can accomplish them.

5. Run when you can and tread water when ‘life’ kicks you in the butt.
Optimistic attitude or not, sometimes bad, annoying and troublesome things happen. During those times, you’ll need to apply your full attention to solving the issues at hand.  When you’re not encumbered by those emergencies though, work diligently toward your goal. Invest your time on the most productive activities you can muster, especially those that frighten you. Do at least one thing every day that will get you closer to your goal that you’re afraid of doing.

Miracles happen just outside your comfort zone. So make it a habit to consistently step outside yours.

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