Can We Have A United Team?

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Have you ever watched a group of six year olds playing soccer? It looks like a flock of birds in the sky; you know the ones, where it looks like a swarm and they seem to move in perfect unison. The entire group dives left then soars right all together in flight.

When birds do it, it looks almost poetic, when kids do it at a soccer game, it looks comical, when adults do it…

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Field of Dreams?

When I look lately at what is happening in the world around me I feel like I’m watching a field full of soccer games played by multiple teams. In each separate game all the children are chasing the ball regardless of their position, on the sidelines there are coaches shouting directions, and all sorts of commentary from the observers both celebratory and derogatory.

We have plenty of players, plenty of coaches and people with opinions on each side of every game but there is not much progress. Sure there is a lot of running around chasing something and observers getting excited about if those chasing the ball are right or wrong in doing so. We have noise, emotion and commotion, but is anyone making a score?

What Position Do You Play?

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So here is what I am wondering. Where do you sit on this field? No matter what your opinion, there is certainly something that you can do that is helpful. Something you can do that will help with education, skill development and ultimately create a better game by improving the players’ understanding of their positions. Maybe it even starts with understanding what position you want to play in the game.

I believe what has been forgotten in this mayhem that is today’s news frenzy is that we all have roles in which we excel. If we each play our roles that speak to our best skills then regardless of the score, there is a well-played game. When games are played well and everyone understands how their role makes an impact we have field of players who respect each other and the game. When the players show respect for their opponent it translates to the coaches and the spectators. It is from this we can all learn and grow and develop into better teams.

United in Civility

I understand we are all concerned about the issues today, so let’s start there. I believe divisiveness is beginning to tear apart this great, united nation and I believe we will all lose if that happens.

I long for the days where there is no name calling in the schoolyard and we each begin to listen to our neighbors again. Stop unfriending and turning away from the differences between us and begin to ask what does our neighbor want and what can we begin to agree on.

When we start coming together again, we can begin to move into the world we all want to live in. No one wants to be called names, no one wants to feel dumb for their opinions and we don’t create the world we want by yelling at each other.

Can You Hear Anything Through The Din?

Getting back to the soccer game – you know on the sidelines everyone is yelling out commands. You also know, none of the kids on the field can hear or are listening for the commands. And then there is this one kid standing right by the net, waiting for someone to pass the ball because they are in perfect scoring position but….

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Where to Start

So I ask you to take a moment to take stock of the position you are in. I encourage you to take a couple of issues that are near and dear to you and really get clear on what it is that you do want to happen. Speak to those issues and maybe reach out to someone that doesn’t have the exact same view and listen. Don’t judge, qualify or argue, just listen for any possible way that you and they have a common desire. I challenge you to find the humanity in the cause and begin to develop solutions and dialog that is constructive towards the world we all want to live in.

imagesI believe that for the values of this country to remain in vision we, as a nation of people, need to constructively identify what has to be done to keep the country one that stands for all it has always stood for. In order for impact to be made on a meaningful level we need to continue to do positive actions that speak to our skills, to be respectful to our opposition so that we can find the best values of this country and move them forward as a united team.  Isn’t this at least worth a try?

I welcome any comments or feedback, I understand this is an emotionally charged topic, but I do truly value all opinions. I respectfully request no name calling or finger pointing.

The Super Bowl of Life

So you like football or you don’t, I couldn’t help but notice all the life lessons playing out before me in this year’s NFL Super Bowl.

The Brady Disclaimer 

I will preface this post with the fact that I’m a Boston native and by that very nature my DNA has been programed from birth for the New England/Boston sports teams. Please also note, that I am of a “certain age” and so over the years, this birthright has caused as much heartbreak as it has caused jubilation.

fullsizeoutput_23bdIn Case You Were Watching Football

What I couldn’t help but take in during this football game were all the life lessons we were watching being played out on the gridiron. I’m assuming most of you were actually watching a football game so I will identify what I was seeing.

The First Half

This game started and much to my surprise the Falcons dominated in both defense and offense. The rate of turnovers and quarterback sacks on the Patriots were incredible. As each play was executed I could see the confidence building with the Falcons. What was interesting to me was that although I saw frustration on the Patriot’s faces, I never saw defeat in their body language.

I am not an expert, but I have seen teams, or fighters, enter into a playing field or ring and you can just see in their demeanor that they’ve already been defeated before the match even begins. The Patriot’s posture didn’t change and the mood appeared to stay focused as play after play went on.

  • This was a reminder that mindset is EVERYTHING!!

By the end of the first half, the statistics were flying around about how no team had ever come back from this big of a deficit.   The commentators were remarking as if the game was a foregone conclusion.

Have you ever had someone count you out and you weren’t finished playing? I have and boy it didn’t feel good!  It ain’t over until it’s over.

The Epic Second Half

As the players returned to the field there was no particular gain in the third quarter for the Patriots, however there was no substantial gain for the Falcons either. The Patriots did however begin to get some footing at that point. Although they were not making big points, they were not losing as much ground and they figured out how to begin to turn the momentum.

  • Sometimes in life, it takes a bit of energy to simply stop the slide before generating enough traction to start making gains.

The fourth quarter leaned heavily on simply seeking every opportunity and being alert and aware of each moment. One chance, one fumble, one catch might make the difference between success and defeat.

  • Consistent small plays were perfect strategy versus the risky grand play and each small gain was celebrated.

What was also a great lesson was the faith they had in their staff and plan. The coaches and all the behind the scenes people worked tirelessly to develop a plan in which the team relied and put their faith. On game day the only thing left for them to do was to follow the plan.

“Do Your Job” is their motto and it is not as harsh as it sounds, rather a very practical approach to life. I am now using this often in my life to remind myself where I fit in any situation and to do what I do to the best of my ability understanding and trusting that the other pieces to this puzzle will do theirs and it will work.

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And The Winner Is…

As the game concluded in a remarkable unprecedented overtime bid, the winner was declared. As microphones were placed in front of owner, head coach and star quarterback each pointed to the efforts of the whole. Not one acknowledged that they were the hero because it is clear the best victories are indeed shared.

  • Not one of us is victorious without the assistance, dedication and sacrifice of others combined with our own.

Amazing how this one little game (OK, it was a BIG game) could pack so much life lessons. What can you take from this to put another W on your scorecard?

Finding your Inner Compass

I remember the day that it all hit me – I really don’t want to do this. It wasn’t until that moment that I could find my clarity. It was in the moment I figured out what I really, viscerally, didn’t want to do, that I could identify better what I did want to do.

It all started when I decided to hire a life coach for myself. I had never done anything quite like this before. Sure I had been to counselors or therapists before at various times in my life, but I didn’t feel like I needed therapy, just help with direction of what did I want to do next in my life.

I was about 40 years old at the time and had raised my children, created a good career, not one that I loved, but I thought, who needs to love what they do? I was good at it and that felt good and it paid well, so it was really good enough. However, good enough was no longer how I wanted to live my life.

I wanted the life I saw Richard Branson living. I wanted to be in love with my job and career as much as he was. I wanted time and space to be able to travel and do the inspired things that made me come alive. I wanted to give my energy to those causes that I felt deeply connected to.

The Flail Before The Fail

So I began to flail – I tried all sorts of ways to make my career more of what I thought I wanted. I created groups, I began speaking at conferences and I found that I was no more happy then I was originally and I realized I was thoroughly stuck!

It was at this point I decided to hire my own life coach to help me figure out how to make my career more fulfilling. It turned out through a couple sessions of chatting and running various tests that my personality and desires did not match what I was doing. No wonder why I could not find a way to make it better! But then where do I go from here?

 

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Ahhh, Direction

After a few more sessions we worked out a direction for me and I must admit I was pretty excited. We developed a plan and a path but the more steps I took, the less excited I became – was this normal? My sessions with my coach ended and I kept moving forward because this was the path my coach and I had decided I should take to get to where I ultimately wanted to end up.

My lack of excitement soon turned to procrastination, then to dread then to pure avoidance of any of the steps on the identified path. In one moment of complete clarity sitting in front of a stack of unopened mail related to my chosen path it hit me.

I Don’t Want To Take This Path!

I don’t wanna take this path, I don’t have to and I’m not gonna! The wash of relief came over me. I just couldn’t go through with the path laid out by me and my coach. I didn’t get any clarity at that moment of how I was going to get to where I wanted, but I sure knew how I wasn’t going to get there and it felt wonderful!

When I took a moment to look at my behaviors, it was completely clear that the path was completely out of alignment with what I truly wanted. The end goal was right on the money, but the path was way off.

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Gut Check

When I thought about the career move I wanted to make I was still excited. When I thought about how to get there I was unsure, but I just felt like I would figure it out because the goal just felt so right for me.

This was a new discovery for me that once I recognized this strong procrastination I was creating, I actually felt I was off balance. Once I recognized the off balance feeling, I could easily identify when that feeling went away and therefore what felt right.

 

I Know This Isn’t It!

I think this takes some time to develop, but it might be more present in your life already than you think. Right now you’re probably reading this article identifying with some part of the story. You know that nagging feeling that says, “I’m not sure what is right, but this isn’t it!” You’ve had those moments when you were not sure how you were going to do something but you just knew you had to move forward on it. Some people call those hunches, intuition, or gut feelings – but whatever you call them, they are there to be heard.

Some Ideas For You

I encourage you to take a moment to review anything you procrastinate. Take a moment to think about why you procrastinate this item. There are many reasons for such a behavior, but this is a good marker and it was a key marker for me.

Another idea you might consider is to review the feelings you have around various decisions you are making. Take some time to journal or meditate or do something active with this decision in mind and listen to where your mind goes, to your body’s reaction, your emotional response. I think you might surprise yourself at the answers that are trying to reveal themselves.

I truly believe we all know what is in alignment for us however, most of us have been taught to ignore what we’re feeling and move forward on our path. Ever see a young child fall down and begin crying? The parental reflex  response is “brush it off, keep going.” Although there might be nothing wrong with that approach sometimes, other times it is worth exploring while you’re down if a different option is better. Sometimes you find your compass while you’re telling yourself to get back up.

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The Key To The Law of Attraction

 

The idea that you can OM your way into success or having the life you want is misleading and causing confusion and disappointment.  There is a huge amount of people that have been misdirected into believing having what they want is as easy as simply picturing what they desire.  This misunderstanding has led some people to believe the Law of Attraction is a hoax and it doesn’t work.

Let me tell you why it hasn’t worked.  The Law of Attraction is largely misunderstood.

How the Law of Action really works

There are several steps to the Law of Attraction.  This is not something that you can do in a few minute of meditation each day.  It requires several steps to manifest what you want.

Thought

Before anything comes into existence, it has to start in the mind with an idea. Everything we do, have or become starts with a thought much like a building, it always starts with drawing out what you wish to build.  You take your desire and plan what it will look like, how it will function and feel and how it will be utilized.  By thinking through the details you create first in the mind or on paper (visualization) then bring it forth into reality.

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This is often where the law of attraction stops…or at least many people believe it stops.  Think about your dream or goal and it will happen; that’s the idea.  That is where the epic fail comes in.  Some things may indeed happen this way, but very few. There is so much more to this process.

Mindset

Have you ever uttered an affirmation and thought – yah, right!  Who am I kidding?  Or had a dream or desire and thought, well, I’m sure that would work for someone but probably not me.  This is the next and critical step.

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You cannot receive what you don’t believe you can have or achieve.  If you believe you are not worthy enough, good enough or capable enough no omming in the world will bring what you desire to you.  Additionally, if what you want is something that you believe you should not want or have you will sabotage your own efforts.  Anything that causes you to believe something is not possible for you for whatever the reason is a limiting belief and must be addressed. Limiting beliefs must be overcome first, otherwise you are wasting time and defeating your own efforts.

Ignition

Once you have washed away the limiting beliefs and you have your vision that you wish to manifest, the final step is action.  Minute or massive, perfect or imperfect action must be taken.  It doesn’t matter if the action you take in the direction of your dreams is exactly correct, but you must do something besides just think about it!  You simply need to start and much like a GPS system the steps you take will redirect or recalculate along the way.

IMG_0575If you sit in a car, have a destination in mind, program your GPS but never put the car in drive you are going nowhere fast!  You can imagine the restaurant you wish to go to, you can almost taste the food, you can hear the atmosphere you can desire this with all your heart but you cannot get there until you put the car in drive!  Once the car is in drive you can set out in the wrong direction or make a wrong turn on your way but when you do that the GPS will say…”Make a U-turn when possible” or redirect you with a different route to your desired destination.  This is the Law of Action and the sign of a great GPS!

Blastoff

Your dreams are the destination, your visualization the GPS and what actions you take are the force that drives you to your destination.

One of these steps without the other is going to produce limited or incomplete results if anything at all.  Once you put them all together you have the key!  Dreams are realized when clear visualization meets focused action.

Now that you have the keys, put your motor in drive and go get those dreams!

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What’s In Your Pickle Jar?

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I keep hearing people calling for more balance in their lives. I don’t believe it’s actually balance they need at all! In fact the same people screaming for balance also want to live full, rich lives and have crammed their datebooks and calendars full with activities, events and “to-dos” to provide them the balance to their overflowing work life!

It is not balance you seek!

Balance is the act of two of more objects being of same weight, or in this case importance. This just isn’t the case for most people I speak with. What is happening in most people’s lives is that something of lesser importance or of less value to someone is taking more time or weight from the things that create joy and fulfillment in their lives. So if you are spending too many hours doing things that don’t bring you joy and then you try to add equal time doing things that do bring you joy you are going to be out of time and totally stressed!

So what happens is the work stuff gets done and the joy stuff does not.

The Professor’s Example

A long time ago when I was screaming for balance in my life as well I came across the classroom story of “The Pickle Jar.” The professor was explaining that when people thought the jar was full with a bunch of large rocks, there was still room in it for more and he added pebbles, sand and even water until there was no empty space. The underlying theme of the entire demonstration is that if you put your big rocks (most important things to you) into this pickle jar (representing your life) first then the next important things (represented by pebbles) then the next (sand) and the next (water) you will have space for everything in your life. The professor’s take on this was that there is so much we can fit in our lives even if we think our lives are full now by simply making sure the big things get in first and then you can fit so much more in it.

As well intentioned as that lesson is, I think it’s a load of crap and that most of us are walking around with stuffed pickle jars! Just because you can cram a ton of stuff into your pickle jar does not mean you should. I believe the good professor missed the point that if you fill your jar with rocks, pebbles, sand and water there is no room for life-giving air.

Where is the air?

Humans, can do so many amazing things and some can go for long periods of time with really full pickle jars but what happens when there is no air to breathe or feed the flame and no space to absorb and enjoy the process or the results? The pickle jar smothers out causing all sorts of issues that may show up as burn-out, anxiety, depression, lost relationships, health issues or substance abuse.

So I ask you, is your pickle jar too full? Do you even know what is filling your pickle jar anymore? Was a rock or pebble placed in your pickle jar by someone other than you? Does each rock and pebble in your jar belong there today?

It’s time to examine this cry for balance and begin to look at what we are trying to achieve. I believe what people are truly seeking is not balance but a fullness of life. People tell me they wish to fill their lives with people and experiences that matter to them and contribute to the greater good in the mean time. When I sit down with them and examine their desired life and current pickle jar, they just don’t seem to match.

What Can You Do?

Dump out that pickle jar and look at all the items in it. Should the rocks be rocks or maybe pebbles?  What might you take out of your pickle jar and put in a “not now” pile?  An item may indeed be a rock, but the time for that rock to take priority in your life might not be this moment. These are hard but necessary questions if you are seeking to live a less stressed and more fulfilled life. Think about it, if your pickle jar is stuffed, how can you possibly enjoy and experience all that you’ve stuffed it with if you can’t even move things around and see it all?

Fulfilled life doesn’t necessarily mean a filled life. There needs to be space in your life to be able to be present and enjoy what you place in your pickle jar! For me I gained amazing results when I looked at my pickle jar and consciously refilled it with a nice mix of rocks, pebbles, sand and water – I also was able to fit a shell in there too!

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Did Your “Calling” Lose Your Number?

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So you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up? That’s ok. Yes, I said it, it is totally ok!

This doesn’t mean that you just sit back and wait for the lightning bolt to strike or that “moment” when your purpose just hits you – it rarely happens like that. Few people knew at a young age what they were destined to be, and some of those who did know decide part way through their life that maybe they need to be something different anyway.

So if the Aha moment isn’t necessarily coming and you don’t have a clue what you were put on this earth to do, what do you do? How do you get to where you need to be when you don’t know where that is?

You Are Not Alone

As a coach I see many people in this conundrum. They know they are not currently fulfilled or doing what they were called to do, yet they have no idea how to find their “passion” and their calling isn’t dialing in!

Many are surprised when I tell them they are not alone, they feel like they are the only ones stumbling around in the dark bumping around in a fun house at an amusement park, however it is not fun nor amusing. There is anxiety in their voice, they must have a purpose, they have been told as much. Why is it so easy for others to find their purpose and so hard for them?

How Do I Find It?

First off, let’s break this myth that it is easy to find your passion. I have done countless exercises with people and they themselves have taken numerous quizzes and questionnaires (some proven, and others just facebook algorithms) and each person is moved at different times with different tools. You see there is not really a viable, “5 Tips to Uncovering Your Passion” that works for everyone.

What works best in my experience is when people take action. You see I don’t believe in the Law of Attraction as much as I truly believe in the Power of Action. They both work on the same principle, however attraction does not work without action.

You cannot OM your way to success or purpose. You must step into a direction, any direction and begin where you are with simply a desire. This does not have to be perfect, and likely it will not be.

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Your GPS (Guiding Passion System)

You may step into your desire in entirely the wrong direction. You might be going down the totally wrong road and you might spend a little time on this path before recognizing that something doesn’t feel right. Or maybe obstacle upon obstacle pops up preventing real progress. You keep trying your heart out because this has to be right, you have put time and energy into it, you don’t want to waste that time!

Even if you head out completely wrong, you end up feeling it, and noticing that this is just too much. You may want to quit, but I warn you, don’t do it! Keep plugging away, change a bit of direction or approach, ask yourself some quality questions and sit quietly receiving answers. Hire a mentor, one who has walked the road before you. One way or another, you will be guided to “make a u-turn when possible” or recalculate your plan. Much like a navigation system, you can’t get redirected to a new route if you are in park afraid to back out of your driveway because you may make a wrong turn. Trust me, the worst wrong turn is no turn at all. Inaction is the killer of purpose.

You may head into the exact direction of your purpose and head smack dab into it. Your purpose may end up looking precisely as you expected or totally different, but either way, when you end up looking it square in its face and you know you have hit what you were born to do.

How will I know?

When you stumble, or walk confidently, into your purpose, or it taps you on the shoulder and says, “Hi, this is your sign” you will feel it. The feeling is a lot like love, it makes you warm inside, it fills you with excitement, you have an all consuming desire to do more of what this is to experience more of this feeling. The most common reaction I hear is that people find a sense of peace when they have found their purpose.

Now don’t get me wrong, everything doesn’t turn into rainbows and kittens when you find your purpose. There will be work to be done, you might find that you have found your calling, but you cannot fully step into it because you have bills to pay, mouths to feed. It is ok, once you have found it, just start small to move in ways that continue to build on that excitement. Fit your purpose into your life as you can and continue to develop and grow with it.

Ready, Fire, Aim!

Yes, this is not a type-o. The best way to find your purpose is to do. Don’t be afraid of the mistake or the wrong turn. Just move in the direction you think is forward and assess. If you need to recalculate or adjust your aim, at least you will have a point of reference of what didn’t work.

So go out there and shoot for the stars! If you miss, adjust your aim and fire again!

 

7 Ideas To Keep The Sparkle In Your Holidays

Holiday Sparkle

When did the holidays become something to survive? When did holidays get to be things filled with to-do’s, rushing around and fulfilling obligations?

Sometime between childhood and today I have learned that not everyone likes the holidays. Lately, I’ve heard quite often how some people even “hate” the holidays.

I don’t happen to be one of those people (I know, you’re probably not surprised) but I am curious where the sparkle went out of the season for some. I’m sad to hear some answers, there are too many errands and not enough time, I have to go to parties with people I don’t like because it’s expected, I don’t like my family, or I miss my family. I can’t erase the pain of missing family, but for the rest I can share the way I preserve some of the joy of the season.

I’m not saying that I don’t have some sadness during the holidays because I miss people who are no longer here. I don’t claim to have all my decorations done just so and presents bought and wrapped before I prepare my Thanksgiving dinner (which by the way this year was steak). What I have done is altered my focus for the season from being movie perfect to perfect for me.

For me, the holidays are all about slowing down and spending time with those you treasure and love. This is not about buying the perfect present for the distant uncle or making sure the tree has more gifts than last year. This is about the gift that cannot be bought, the most precious gift; time.

I have a small family, I’m fortunate in that way, however each of us have extremely busy schedules and our distance makes time spent together even more precious. I suspect over the next year it’s going to become even more difficult with my speaking schedule, my son’s photography business taking off and my daughter’s travel schedule.

Some of the things I have done to maintain the joy of the season:

1. I have, for the most part, omitted gift giving for friends. I schedule time to get together instead and work this in over December and January so as not to add to people’s already stretched schedules.

2. I ask my children for a single big item they would like but can’t afford or that they have been saving for. Granted, my children are grown now and this works for us because of their age. My son has a particular lens for his camera in mind this year. Last year for my daughter it was a headboard for her bed that she had wanted for a long time. I could have gotten her another red sweater and other small things but it turns out, she doesn’t even like red sweaters!

3. I am flexible with traditional holiday meals. This year Thanksgiving dinner was just for my son and me, my daughter stayed back East. A turkey for the two of us might have been a bit ridiculous mostly because neither of us is overly fond of turkey; it’s just what you do. I asked him what he wanted and he said steak. I can tell you so many people were jealous of us…it’s not a hard switch to make!

4. I pull out all the stops to get the family in one place for a couple of days no matter what. This is a foregone conclusion that wherever you are, Mom will be flying you home for Christmas – wherever home happens to be that year.

5. I say no to invitations that seem obligatory but are not part of the list above. I refuse to be busy doing things I don’t want to do in my “free” time. That is what we call a job and can suck the joy right out of the season in a heartbeat!! Remember, to say no does not require an excuse (real or made up) it simply requires you to do it unapologetically but politely.

6. I send out handwritten cards. Yup, it’s totally old-fashioned in this digital age, but since I’m not at the malls buying gifts, I have time to thoughtfully write out cards to those I am grateful to have in my life. I do this for both my business and my friends and family. This is both a gift to myself to celebrate these people and how they have touched my life over the year, and a gift of gratitude to them.

7. I have pared down my holiday decorations a lot! Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have one of those houses on HGTV, but not enough to take time away from the other things I love – the non-things! Besides a ton of decorating means a ton of undecorating, packing and storing after the holidays. I have a few meaningful items that I always put out and forgo the rest. It doesn’t change the festivities, those are created by the people inside the home sharing memories.

These ideas may or may not work for you. For some the idea of serving steak on Thanksgiving is blasphemy! These are simply ideas to ponder if you are one of those people who seems to have lost the spirit and are looking to put some more joy back into the holidays. Some simple changes to consider to help you align your most precious gift with the most precious people in your life.

Sparkle on!
-E

Sharing Joy