In the past, I’ve talked about the power of persistence and what it takes to follow through on your goals. If you have the willpower and drive to pursue your goals NO MATTER WHAT, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
I’d like to take that one step further by teaching you how to develop the kind of relentless persistence — so you’re able to follow through on any goal you desire.
The good news about willpower is, it’s not some inherent skill you’re born with — it’s something you learn and develop. It’s like a muscle — exercise it regularly and it grows stronger and stronger.
So how do you flex that muscle in a way that gets results and helps you achieve your goals?
Death has been with me, getting my attention, saying nothing. So this morning, in a hotel in New York, I take a long shower, hoping the hot, anonymous stream might wash the aches from my heart and the fear from my mind. Yet once rinsed of my memory and worry, death takes off its mask and it is only life trying to get my attention one more time. But I insist, I have never taken any of this for granted. And now, from the inside, I can see the story of the Universe in the homeless man’s eye, and the kindness of time in the sun off the thunderstorm puddle, which will evaporate by noon. Like me. Like you. Now life appears as a small bird drinking from the puddle. So that’s it. All our efforts come down to one life offering itself as a drink to another before we evaporate into everything else. It makes me sad to think that you and I will vanish. But the way this works is elegant: the expending of one life till it is seamlessly absorbed in the next. And so, this morning, these thoughts hardly seem my own.
Are you ready to discover your calling? Or become a household name? Or meet the love of your life? Then rip up your scorecard, baby. Sit at the doorstep of Creative Possibility. Step into this uncorrupted moment, and allow your years, disappointments, and opinions to disappear. Call it Zen. Amnesia. Surrender. The Zone. Whatever lingo works for you. Because as a career and an inspired success coach, I know this breakthrough strategy works. It’s this: I have the willingness to allow things to work out, even if they haven’t worked out before.
Let’s face it. The eager run through open fields and meet new opportunities. The beleaguered trip on daisies. They call it “experience.”
Recently I coached Julie, a psychotherapist who had three hot new prospects call her in the past week. I felt excited for her. But I noticed Julie’s tone was as flat as my kitchen table, well, as flat as my kitchen table is, underneath a small mountain range of piles. She could have been telling me about historic weather patterns in downtown San Diego.
The recent reckless skirmish between the U.S. and Iran held a deep irony. Neither side wanted to go to war, and yet neither side could talk to each other except in terms of war. Language and action go together. If you are stuck in the metaphor of war, with its winners and losers, revenge, enmities that last for generations, and the macho image of the warrior, you can never end war even though you want to.
There is no clean end to war once you are in a war mentality. Winners in one war become losers the next, and combat runs into a quagmire in which it is obvious that neither side will be able to claim victory, war thinking keeps stubbornly drilling home the same metaphor of war. As history teaches us from World War I to Vietnam and now Afghanistan, wars are at once pointless, relentless, and endless. War heroes on one side are war criminals on the other.
Life is challenging.
Accept and make peace with that.
There will always be ups and downs. It’s the nature of being in a human experience.
Don’t pray for life to get easier.
Instead work to develop your inner strength and resilience so that you can handle the challenges that life throws your way.
Your challenges are gifts in disguise sent by the universe to strengthen your character. Your dreams chose you for a reason. And your dream will take you on a journey of having to become the person who is capable of fulfilling the vision.
At the beginning of every year, there’s an energy that’s palpable where you feel such huge promise for newness, in every way. Yes, we all get to start again! YAY. Yoga, Pilates, promises to yourself to change your diet, let go of the old habits that messed you up the year before, start a prayer and meditation practice and quit sugar/alcohol/(fill in blank) for real this time, take some interesting classes you’ve always wanted to do. Everyone is raring to go. Success by design is inherent just in the words “new year”. The failures of yesterday can be erased on Jan 1. That is a big fat promise.
But not so fast. These are all worthy intentions but what if your old self, the one you’re trying to change is not willing to do the list in your hand. What if your old self is so invested in your identity of feeling shitty, lonely, hard done by, angry, etc. that it thinks your new ideas are just phooey and is determined to prove it to you?
“No matter how many bombs we drop, no matter how skillfully our soldiers fight, we are not responding to the ultimate challenge until we show the world how and why we must all learn to live in peace...” -Sargent Shriver
I've Been Thinking...
There was so much news this week it was almost impossible to keep up with it all.
We began with stories of retribution, revenge, and a possible war. (Thank God cooler heads seemed to have prevailed.) Then we ended with what’s being portrayed as a war inside the House of Windsor, a.k.a. the British royal family. Impeachment, climate change, a downed airplane killing all on board, and the devastating loss of Australian life and wildlife also competed for our attention.
Leave it to the queen to sum it all up for us. In a statement from Buckingham Palace, she or her aides pronounced: “It’s complicated." You think? Holy moly.
“It’s complicated” (which also happens to be one of my favorite movies) seems to perfectly sum up our politics, the Middle East, and how many families are feeling these days.
What I took away from everything this week was this: life is indeed complicated, but it can also be really simple. Like Harry and Meghan, each of us has the personal right or duty to take a moment to step back and reassess what is or isn’t working—be it in our families, our relationships, our places of work, and or our politics. Then we can each make a decision to step up and speak out, or step back and stand down.
“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven't even happened yet.” -Anne Frank
I've Been Thinking...
I wrote a version of today’s column just a few days before New Year’s. In it, I wrote about my resolutions for the year ahead, and also how I wanted to feel. Then January 1 arrived, and I tossed everything aside. Why? Well, after doing some reflecting that day (as I do every year), it became clear to me that New Year’s resolutions wouldn’t be enough this time around.
After all, this isn’t just the start of a new year. It’s the start of a great new decade. And a lot can happen in 10 years. I spent some time on New Year’s Day thinking back on the decades of my past, and how many big, life-altering things had happened in my life. That’s when I realized that I wanted to set intentions for my entire decade ahead.
I wasn’t trying to be a writer. It surprised me when I looked through the stack of handwritten notebooks stored in plastic tubs under my bed and realized, I have written over three thousand pages. It started as writing one page songwriting idea snap shots. I don’t write books, I write pages or at my best, distilled wisdom condensed into a single quote. I call my writing process WISDOM PAGES.
Two simple exercises set the foundation for my unique technique in writing.
• THE MORNING PAGES daily practice in Julia Cameron’s classic, THE ARTIST’S WAY – A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.
Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. I followed her suggestion and wrote three pages every day for over a year. This simple practice allowed unfiltered observation of my internal thought processes. Over time, the inner critic was silenced. I relaxed into a fluid intuitive style of free writing. The blessing of deeper self awareness is unmeasurable.
• THE WISDOM CAN is an exercise I learned in a prosperity class.
I decorated a large coffee can and named it my Wisdom Can. The idea is to observe one simple thing you learn each day, write a small note of affirmation and put it in the can. After the class we were directed to start taking out one wisdom message each day as a reminder of what we learned. My curiosity was ignited. I continued to put wisdom messages in my can every day for several years. Without knowing it, my habit of direct observation of personal experience fueled my understanding of how, focus amplifies experience.
Do you accept the gift?
Life gives to each one of us in so many ways.
For starters, there’s the bounty of the senses – including chocolate chip cookies, jasmine, sunsets, wind singing through pine trees, and just getting your back scratched.
What does life give you?
Consider the kindness of friends and family, made more tangible during a holiday season, but of course continuing throughout the year.
Or the giving of the people whose hard work is bound up in a single cup of coffee. Or all those people in days past who figured out how to make a stone ax – or a fire, edible grain, loom, vaccine, or computer. Or wrote plays and novels, made art or music. Developed mathematics and science, paths of psychological growth, and profound spiritual practices. A few people whose names you know, and tens of thousands – millions, really – whom you will never know: each day their contributions feed, clothe, transport, entertain, inspire, and heal us.
Consider the giving of the natural world, the sound of rain, sweep of sky and stars, and majesty of mountains. How does nature feed you?
But we need to realize that our whole life is in our own hands. We can turn the wheel in any which way we want. Since our goal in life is happiness and true joy, we need to keep our focus on this very goal and move forward in life accordingly.
The pause just after Christmas and Hanukkah holds a powerful occurrence. The work schedule is not quite back to normal. A lull in expectations can be felt. This temporary interruption in our daily lives offers us the perfect time to create goals for the new year. This is a truly spectacular opportunity. We get to decide what we want in 2020. This season we are creating not only a new year, but a new decade!
Imagine the Universe is preparing to give birth to a new year that has yet to be touched by our experiences. The emergent year remains intact and waiting for our concept of time to crack open the shell that contains our collective thoughts. Soon we begin to feel the experiences we have been searching for. Like most births there is a mixture of anticipation, a little fear of the unknown and possibly an awareness of the responsibility to do the right thing. There are moments of pain that will be forgotten and overwhelming experiences of heart opening love. Together we will welcome the birth of a new year and a beautiful new decade.
When looking back, the year 2012 was thought to bring a powerful new consciousness shift to Earth. Many believed it was the beginning of changes that could help humanity evolve. Some were expecting to see proof of a cosmos that contains miracles, truth, and the answers mystics speak of.
Like 2012 the year 2020 is set to unleash a great wave of evolution for Earth and it’s inhabitants. What begins in 2020 will gain strength through the decade.
This is the week I loved when I was little, then over time as life took its turns it became the one I dreaded most, and then changed again into something I was grateful for and looked forward to. (My husband, the holiday elf, is the direct cause of that.) The holidays, in my case Christmas, (you might celebrate one of the other 29 other holidays across the 7 major religions that take place in this season) took on new meaning, like the story in motion reflected in all life. The corridors of time echo for all of us as we are all meaning makers. We assign meaning to periods of time, events, and the stories that accompany them. In many ways this season, certainly for some of us, houses the influence of many ghosts. Maybe you feel this too, the presence of the past, overlapping the now and pointing to what could be in the future. It’s probably why the movie A Christmas Carol was and still is so popular. This is a universal experience.
There's a very old saying…. maybe it's not popular anymore, and only older people know it: If you lay down with dogs, you'll get up with fleas. But you don't have to belong to the era from out of which that sagacity comes to get the gist of it.
If you lay down with dogs, you're going to get up with fleas. Why are you going to get up with fleas if you lay down with dogs? Because dogs and fleas generally go together.
We look at life, and then let something inside of us direct us to lay down (take a nap) with those negative states. We embrace them. We cuddle up with that sense of anger or frustration or fear.Who's at fault if I get up with fleas? Who's at fault if I'm negative? Is it the dog's fault? Is the dog responsible for the fleas that are on me?
You may say, "No, I hate these negative states that I'm in!" But your hatred of a negative state is the same as you laying down with the dog and picking up the fleas.
The question I hear most as a career/success coach is HOW do I live my dreams?
How can I take what I love and turn it into a living, an empire, or a sapphire on the crown of fame? But I know that it’s not the concrete tasks that will unleash a destiny. It’s not about “sensible” actions. It’s the love and drive of “irrational” desire. I don’t want my clients just taking actions. I want these precious souls to take inspired actions. Here’s my answer to HOW to live your dreams: It’s all about the mojo.
Indulge me, as I quote myself from Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work! (and indulge me—as a proud mother– as I tell you the book hit #1 on Amazon.com for Career guides!!)
“Here’s what I know from coaching thousands of creative individuals and visionary entrepreneurs. It’s all about the mojo. The mojo unleashes the electricity that turns a light into an obliteration of darkness and an act of God. Wild success isn’t about going through the motions. It’s not even about staying in motion. This isn’t about your legs. It’s about the light in your eyes, the fire on your tongue, and the sweep of your heart. When you’re bouncing off the wall with voltage and star power, and as long as your hair looks good, nothing can withstand you for long.”
So how do you get that mojo—you ask. Clever you.
You are hoping for the trail map, so as to get somewhere. But as your new paradigm shape-shifting mentor, I want to help you to tap an inner fire and forget about chalky projections and guides. I want you to burn with desire—and then conviction. A fire will take you places that a map never will.
You are not looking for information. You are craving transformation.
Someone could tell you “how to do your dreams,” and your brain will nod with comfortable satisfaction, but you won’t change a single strand of hair on the head of your life. You’ll tuck the workbook into your desk drawer, and you will stay barren and unmoved. Let’s face it. You’re not looking to bake a sheet cake.
You’re looking to find a way to burst with joy and, finally, feel as though you can breathe, maybe as you have never yet breathed in this lifetime. You will only really breathe when you believe in the certainty of the life that calls to you— more than the life you know. Everything else is pain.
The Moment You Stop Questioning…is the Moment You Start Creating
When you allow yourself to believe in your desire, you will be an unstoppable force for your life’s work. You will have your people, those who emerge from the wood work to support you and those who clamor to have what you offer. You will know what to do because you will stop doubting the internal promptings you receive. Yes, I know it sounds like Shangri-La talk—but it’s more powerful than that.
For me, I could only breathe– when I was breathing fire.
I urge you to follow your desires as though they are decrees from a higher authority within you. I have come to know they are. This is not a career path—though, especially in these times, it is the most likely way you will ever succeed in a career. This is your soul’s goal and the purpose of your life. You will discover who you really are– when you follow what you really want.
To believe in your desire, is to walk on holy ground. The poet Rumi said, “Why would you be content to crawl, when you have been given wings?” Your wings are made of trust.
I am blessed to know many brilliant people and one of them is my friend Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency and bestselling author. Sam created a process of Review-Preview questions so you can reflect on the highlights of the previous year and clarify what you’re looking for in the coming year/decade and I’m excited to share this with you as we end the year and begin a new decade.
Sam used to host Review-Preview salons at the National Press Club. Every December, they would gather to share highlights and lessons-learned from the previous year – and what they’re looking forward to in the coming year.
Many people told her they appreciated these opportunities to “connect and reflect” on highlights, intentions, what really impacted them – and why.
One participant said, “This is kind of like a verbal vision board party, isn’t it? I’ve done vision boards in the past. It’s uncanny how many of the things I put on my board came true.”
You are welcome to use these 10 Review Questions and 10 Preview questions to facilitate a fascinating conversation that adds value for all involved.
For all of you who are animal lovers like me, I’d like to share a beautiful story about “Greyfriars Bobby.”
Bobby was a Skye Terrier that belonged to a police officer named John Gray in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the 1850s. Back then, police officers were required to have watchdogs. Terriers seemed a perfect fit because they are known for their watchful eye and booming bark.
Every day, Bobby would obediently follow his master on his daily rounds. Wherever Constable Gray was, there was Bobby faithfully walking beside him. The two were inseparable. Sadly, one day in 1858, Constable Gray died of tuberculosis. The poor dog must have been incredibly confused, finding himself all alone as he sat beside his master’s coffin. When it was time for the funeral procession, witnesses saw Bobby walking proudly in line, constantly looking up at the coffin that was being carried by Gray’s fellow officers.
Constable Gray was laid to rest in Greyfriars Churchyard. When the grave was filled in, friends, family and colleagues returned to their normal lives. But the Constable’s loyal companion Bobby continued to lay by his master’s grave day after day, rain or shine. Neighbors and passersby began to feed him, and this went on for years.
What’s weighing you down?
On the path of life, most of us are hauling way too much weight.
What’s in your own backpack? If you’re like most of us, you’ve got too many items on each day’s To Do list and too much stuff in the closet. Too many entanglements with other people. And too many “shoulds,” worries, guilts, and regrets.
Remember a time when you lightened your load. Maybe a backpacking trip when every needless pound stayed home. Or after you finally left a bad relationship. Or just stopped worrying about something. Or came clean with a friend about something that had been bothering you. How did this feel? Probably pretty great.
“Subscription” once referred mainly to printed magazines and newspapers (“Your subscription is about to expire—please renew”). Now it’s the backbone of online communication. If you ask a question or sign a petition online, you automatically get subscribed to a barrage of ongoing emails. Subscription has become a cyber activity, distanced from anything real or living. We don’t subscribe to, or unsubscribe from, life. It’s just there, always supporting us. We can, however, lose touch with the essential simplicity of life. We can get entrapped in excess minutia—like too many emails.
A few weeks ago, I reached critical overload with the number of non-personal emails flooding my inbox. Political and environmental groups, spiritual programs and teachers, doctors and alternative healthcare practitioners, bookstores and theaters, online businesses. What a waste of time just to delete them multiple times a day! I went through and unsubscribed from virtually everything except a few key ones. At the same time, I decided to cut back on social media, visiting only occasionally. It was a relief. I felt as if I had lifted the heavy weight of contemporary social busyness and distractions off my shoulders. At least one day a week now I don’t even turn on my computer or phone. Wow, what freedom!