Important things I have been reminded of lately

Some of these are old and some are kind of cliche, but all of them are important things to remember, especially in the midst of our much too busy lives. Which one do you like or relate to the most? Any that you would add?

Life is too short to wake up with regrets.

Love the people who treat you right and walk away from the ones who don’t.

Believe everything  happens or does not happen for a reason.

If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands. If it changes your life, let it.

Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised that it would be worth it.

Friends are like balloons; once you let them go, you probably will not get them back. You will miss them, but smile because there will always be more balloons.

What you do today is important because you are paying a day of your life for it. What you accomplish must be worthwhile because the price is high.

Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Do Not make anyone a priority who only makes you an option.

I hold to the rather old-fashioned belief that each of us is blessed with particular gifts given to us by God and it is our sacred obligation to identify, to cherish and to exercise those gifts for the betterment of ourselves and those in our lives.

The only time is now and the choice is yours.

If it is important to you, then it is important; period.

If not me, then who? If not now, then when?

To have someone say to you – “No matter what life brings your love is always there” – is one of the greatest compliments you can ever receive.

Life should be like the planet, ever slowly moving, ever slowly evolving and always with the promise of a bright new day ahead.

Work like you don’t need the money, love like you have never been hurt, dance like no one is watching, sing as if no one is listening and live every day as if it were your last.

Books Can Change Your Life

I  am a voracious reader. Yes, I said voracious.  I have an unquenchable appetite for the written word and am usually reading 3 – 5 books at a time.  Some of them are business related, some insightful, some great literature and some of them are just good thought-wandering pulp fiction.  I wish I could describe how I choose a book – what it is about the title, the cover, the story – that draws me to them, but it is just a feeling, just an unspoken pull that says “you need to open these pages and see what they have to share with you…”

Books have always been a constant friend and the ultimate escape.  The ones that took me from boardroom lessons to foreign shores and everywhere in between.  Books are a part of what made me who I am. Lessons learned and stories absorbed from their pages helped mold not only my personality but my curiosity about the world.   Then there are the books that change your life…

There have been a lot of books that had a profound effect on me, many of them, but there have been three, and one very new addition, that struck such a cord in me that they changed the course of my life.

IMG_2072The Bible — I don’t care what religion you are, or are not, everyone should read the Bible cover to cover at least once.   Not only is the basis of one of the largest religions in the world, but it is full of lilting prose, majestic stories, unforgettable characters and ethical lessons of how to treat your fellow man that should be learned by everyone.  Whether you choose to accept it as the Word of God or not, you will not have a true understanding of the world without reading it at least once.  I would say this also goes for the rest of holy books of the world’s major religions.  I have the Torah and the Koran and the words of Buddha scheduled as part of my “required” reading for this year.

Radical Careering by Sally Hogshead  – A very dear friend gave me this book 9 years ago and it literally changed the course of my life.  The words in this book sung to the entrepreneurial spirit in me and prompted me to take the leap from 25+ year, very stable, very successful career to radicalcareeringworking for myself. The simple to follow insights led me to questions about what I really wanted from the activities that were going to fund my life.  It was the both the scariest and best move I ever made.  It would not have happened had I not read this book.

 

 

amazing thingsAmazing Things Will Happen by C.C. Chapman –  We all have moments when we are unsure, when we are scared, when we are convinced that nothing is going to work out.  I was at that point when C.C. published this book.  I will be honest and admit that I originally ordered the book and planned to read it because I respect and admire C.C. and consider him a friend.  Then I opened the book and began to read… All of a sudden all of the uncertainty that had been swirling in my  head and heart began to settle.  C.C.’s words reminded me that what I was feeling was natural and that if I just took the time to look at them and then work through it, that amazing things would happen.  Not only was it an inspirational book, it was actionable.  It gave me step by step what I need to figure out how to keep amazing things happening my life and to quiet the voices that tell me that they can’t happen.

All three of these books are well-worn. I am on my 5th new Bible.  I have actually gone through 2 copies of Amazing Things Will Happen and am on my 6th copy of Radical Careering.  I wore out the previous copies.  I have given these books as gifts more times then I can count.

A new book has recently been added to this list – Seth Godin’s  What To Do When Its Your Turn. godinbook
The visual style of the book is stunning and the words profound.  Reading it I realized how often I still “wait” to take my turn.  How often I still wait for permission.  No more!  Another twist in the path of life, but one that heads to a better destination.

 

 

This is by far, not an exhaustive list of the books that have had an impact on me.  It is a list of the ones that have had a more then profound impact on the direction of my life.

So what are YOUR life changing books?

My 3 Words – 2015 edition

I stopped making resolutions when I turned 40. All I was doing was setting myself up for failure.  I stopped having carved in concrete goals within a year or two of that.  Because every time I did my life became the epitome of the old saying “want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans”.  Instead, I tried to find something that would give me direction and put structure around my goals for the year without making me carve them in stone and set myself up for disappointment.  Something that would allow me to lay a path that was flexible enough to allow for inevitable change, but clear enough to keep me on the right trail.

Then my wonderful Twitterverse of friends exposed me to the annual My Three Words and I had my blueprint.

My words for 2014  – tolerance, listening and reading/writing – ending up being somewhat prophetic for what the year was going to bring.  2014 required a lot of tolerance, a lot of listening and consisted of a lot of reading, but not as much writing as I would have liked.

Following in the tradition I started in 2013, I let my three words come to me as I envisioned what I wanted from 2015.  They couldn’t be just any three words though.  They had to be words that embodied an overall attitude for 2015 and words that implied or would move me to action.

So here are My Three Words for 2015 –

Words – This is essentially a evolution of Reading/Writing from 2014. I want to absorb and share more words.  I want to read more.   I want to read many different things.  I want to re-read some of the classics and my old favorites.  I want to read the Bible cover to cover again and really absorb it this time.  I want to write more. I want to finally take all the things that are in my head whether it is inspiration, musings, marketing and social media opinions or fictional stories and share them with the world.  Lastly, I want to do more public speaking.  Having spent a year away from it, I realize how much I really love speaking, training and educating.  I have made a commitment to myself to do more of it this year.

 

Service – I learned this year the difference between saying you want to be of service to others and actually, actively, selflessly being of service to others.  I have always tried to be of service to others, but this past year put me squarely into it.  I realized that making the time and effort and going after opportunities to be of service is different than doing it when it comes your way.  I want to do more of the first and will still accept opportunities that come the second way.

Another lesson that I have committed myself to this year is learning to let others be of service to me.  I have always been the one that took care of everything and everyone, fixed everything, did it myself because it was easier/quicker than counting on someone else to do it.  This year that changes. I will allow others to be of service to me.  I will not rob them of the opportunity to give of themselves.  I know how satisfying it feels to do so.  It is time I let go and give others the space to feel the same way.  I will not stop being a caretaker.  It is who I am.  I will start allowing others to also take care of me.  This one will not be easy, but it is necessary.

 

Routine – This is one of those concepts that I know what it means to me but it may be a bit hard to describe to someone else.  The last few years have been a unpredictable mish-mosh of being in a routine and not being in one depending on the needs of others – friends, clients, loved ones, volunteer commitments, etc…  This last year has held a completely different kind of routine interrupted by frequent detours.  In 2015, I want to start figuring out the routine that suits me best.  Having a routine of working, speaking, reading, writing, exercising, cooking, sitting still…whatever it is, I want to figure out the rhythm of MY life and then add in all of these other things to it.  I have always worked best and been happiest with a little structure in my life.  For me, routine is not about only being structured.  This year it is going to be about having the time, energy and focus to accomplish the things I set out to do and that still allow me to roll with spontaneity, joy, excitement and a need for stillness.


What are your words for 2015?  How can I help you with achieving them? 

 

It’s All About the…Attitude

It’s All About the… Attitude  – Come on, you have to admit that you now have a rather catchy tune floating around in your head.  Just go with it as you read on…

Anyone who follows me on social media has at least a small idea of how much my 2014 sucked.  It started out with a bad case of the flu and pneumonia and went downhill from there.   A relationship ended, my stepmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I had to change my “start a new life in Texas” plans to help care for her and my father, my dog died…and that was just January.

The rest of the year proceeded with the illnesses and deaths of a dear high school friend and my cousin and the rapidly declining health of my stepmother, until she too passed away in December.   I spent my year, not pursuing my career or personal dreams and goals, but being where I was needed and daily taking on dealing with illness, sadness, stress and grief and caring for the ones I love.

Yeah, 2014 sucked

Yet it didn’t…

In some ways, 2014 may have been exactly the year I needed…

We all have lessons in life that we say we need to or have learned…this year, I can honestly say I actually learned some of them.   My 2014 was spent exactly where I was supposed to be.  God (or insert deity you believe in here) put me exactly where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be there. Where I was not only needed, but where I needed to be to learn some hard lessons and settle in to a new attitude and, hopefully, an even better version of myself.   It would be easy to wallow in the misery that 2014 brought and make a lot of excuses and rail against the unfairness of it all and get stuck in the negativity.   But, as we all know… It’s All About the Attitude…

That relationship that ended? I not only dodged a bullet that would have made the rest of my life hard and tumultuous, but having the strength to walk away from it left the perfect clearing in my heart and a clarity in my head to be open to something new and wonderful and perfect for me.

The career plans that were put on hold?  They left me with time to really discover what I love doing and what I want my work going forward to look like.  More on that soon, but just to give you a sneak peek, my consulting focus is going to be changing.  You will see a lot about that coming out soon, so stay tuned and be ready to book me to work with you or speak at your event!

The people I lost this year – Lovell, Celeste and Anita.  While the grief will stay with me, probably forever, the courage, grace and love they showed through their illnesses and their deaths was a huge beacon of what real strength, faith and living, and dying, on your own terms should mean to us all.   I will ever be grateful for having them in my life and for the lessons they taught me both in life and in dying.  The greatest way I can honor them is to live life as fully, as gracefully, with faith and as much on my own terms as possible.

Another unexpected lesson I learned in this year is we rarely really take the time to discover what we can live without.   Prior to this past year, I had a life that was constantly moving – work, volunteering, events, networking, friends, socializing, the general bustle of a full urban life… my life was in an almost 24/7 state of movement and forward progress.  It was wonderful! I loved it and I would not change a moment of it.  I thought it was all necessary for me to really feel like I was living a full life.

Then 2014 started and things in my life ground to screeching halt.  My time and energy were now needed for things that involved a lot of sitting and not actively doing.  I was forced to learn the hardest lesson for me – Patience.  I was forced into learning the value of just sitting still.   I had always done that, but it was in a few hour or at most a few day stretches.  This was days, weeks and months of just doing the day to day things that maintain life and a lot of sitting and waiting.  Never something I had done well or liked very much.   I discovered that, while I really enjoy the hustle and bustle of what my life was, I can live without it.

I also learned the lesson of what material possessions really mean.  I have lived the last year in the small guest bedroom of my father’s home with the only basic necessities of my possessions and almost all the rest of my worldly goods in a storage unit.  I also took on very little work this year and had virtually no income to speak of.  I learned that I really don’t need the stuff that I have surrounded myself with over the years.  Is it nice to have? Yes, it is and I miss some of it.  If I had to start life over with nothing more than what is in this tiny bedroom, I could easily do it.  That storage unit will soon be getting another thorough cleaning out and be pared down again to the things that I most need and that mean the most.

As 2015 starts, my vision of the next chapter of my life is a much better balance of time, effort, energy and things and a LOT of love.

 

Again, it all comes back to the attitude.   We can either choose to be beaten down by what crosses our path or we can choose to embrace it, good or bad, learn from it, live through it and continue on.   I can never say I was “forced” into the changes that 2014 brought.  I could have continued on with the plan that had brought me to Texas.  It was my choice to stay here in this small town, put my life on hold and care for the people who mean so much to me.  And it was the best choice I have made in a very, very long time.

 

So what does 2015 hold for me?  I don’t really know yet.  There is a lot of things that I still need to help with settling here before I can make final decisions about what is next.  I do know that 2015 holds a lot of promise.  I know that I am going into it with a different attitude then I have had in any of my prior 49 years.  I know that it will hold work that I love and am intrigued and challenged by, including more training and speaking opportunities – they are high on the list of things I enjoy most and want to do more of.  It will hold more time, effort and energy spent on the people that I love and less of those things spent on the people who are toxic and draining. It will hold time to just be and enjoy life whatever it holds.

Most of all, 2015 will be the year of Attitude…

Really Fine or Faking It?

How often do you stop and take time to find out what is really going on in your friends’ or co-workers lives? When you ask and they reply with the standard “Ok” or  “Fine”, are they really fine or just faking it?

When we saw our friends, neighbors and colleagues face to face or talked to them on the telephone every day, it was easy to know if they were really fine or just faking it.  Subtle body language cues, sighs, pauses, facial expressions could give us clues to how they really were.

The rise of social media has definitely made it more difficult and so much more necessary to take the time to really find out what is going on with our friends, neighbors and co-workers.  We are all guilty of assuming that the person posting the positive messages really feels that way.  Or are they trying to talk themselves into it?   In the midst of all their optimistic sounding posts, did you pay attention to the one short post that says they are hurting or need help or just need someone to care? How often do you notice when someone goes social media silent for a while and actually follow up to see if they are ok?

We all have busy lives and social media posts fly by us at the speed of the internet, but maybe we need to find a way to slow down and pay more attention.   The shortest message or a kind smile can be the difference that someone might need to make it through whatever is going on in their lives.

This is a season, no matter your religion, of family, loved ones, friends, kindness, compassion and peace…maybe it is a good time to start paying more attention.  On that list of New Year resolutions that you may or may not be making, maybe we need to include one that says pay a little more attention, reach out a little more and maybe we also need to quit faking it ourselves and be more open and honest, especially with the people who care about us.  I know both of those will be on my list of changes for the New Year. 

Who are the people who make us better?

We hear this, or some version of it, all the time…

Surround yourself with people who make you a better person

But how often do we stop and really think about what it means?  What is it in someone who makes us a better person?  How are we defining “a better person”?

If we can’t be clear on the “better person” we are trying to be, how can we be sure that who we are surrounding ourselves with can help us move towards that goal?

Like all goals, it is comes down to a honest assessment of ourselves – what we are good at, what we need to improve and how do we get there?

So, when was the last time you really did an honest thorough assessment of yourself?  I know I wasn’t doing it often enough.   Yet, it clearly is something we should be doing regularly.  This does not mean long days locked away in a cabin (or beach or wherever makes you happy and  calm) somewhere to “get in touch with ourselves”.  Although those are nice and occasionally necessary, there are simpler ways to figure out whether we are surrounding ourselves with people who make us better.

It requires taking a good look at yourself and your interactions on a regular basis.  Because it is so hard and time seems to fly by so fast, recently I started putting this on my calendar as a regular event every two weeks.  I schedule myself a half hour of time to just review the last two weeks.

I ask myself these questions –

  • What did I accomplish? What did I not get done?
  • Who did I interact with?
  • What prompted those interactions?
  • How did I feel about the people I interacted with in the last two weeks?
  • Who did I want to interact with that I did not get to?
  • What lessons have I learned?
  • How productive have my interactions been?
  • What expectations, of myself and others,  did I have that were or were not fulfilled?

 

This quick review, of a manageable time period, allows me to really focus and get clarity on what I am trying to achieve and whether I have moved closer to those goals.  It also allows me to look at the people I have in my life or that I have interacted with and whether they have done one of five things to help me move some aspect of myself to the “better person” I hope to be.

  • Did they teach me a lesson?  It doesn’t matter what kind of lesson. Personal or professional, something about myself, something the word around me, a professional insight, whatever the lesson might be, just did I learn something from them passing through my life?
  • Did they “touch” me? Meaning, was there something about this interaction that touched me emotionally, intellectually, professionally or spiritually.
  • Was there something about interacting with them that changed, enhanced or diminished my perception about myself or the world around me?
  • Did they inspire me? More importantly, did they inspire me to act?
  • Did they just plain make me feel good?  Did they make me smile? Did they make me laugh?  Did they make me see the joy and light in life?

The pattern that emerges from my responses allows me to not only decide if this is a person, or type of person, that I want more or less of in my life, it also allows me to see the “better person” I strive to be.  How I react to and interact with the people that have passed through my world steers me towards the person I want to be, the goals I want to achieve, the impact I want to leave on the world. I see a pattern emerge, based on what I thought or felt about interacting with someone, of what is important or moving to to me.

How are you deciding if the people you surround yourself with make you a better person?  

The Best Advice

A college professor friend of mine recently asked for the best piece of advice we had ever received as we started our careers.  I have gotten a lot of really great advice over the years, but there is one piece of advice from early in my career that was by far the best piece of advice I ever received.

Get over yourself – Be confident, focused, humble & grateful, not cocky and entitled. Yes, you have worked hard and are probably very smart and talented, but there is a fine line before you cross over from being sure of yourself into appearing obnoxiously overconfident.  Remember you have a lot to learn about your job, yourself and the world around you.   Make sure your employer and your new coworkers know that you realize that and you are open to being taught.   No job or request is too small for you. If you are asked to make copies or get coffee, do it.  Everyone who is really successful did their time doing the the shitty work too.  Embrace it and learn from it.

Most importantly, treat EVERYONE – from the CEO to your co-workers to the janitor to the person at the coffee shop – the same – as if they and their contributions are valuable and you have something to learn from them.

Your attitude and work ethics will get you as far, sometimes farther, then the results you produce.

 

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