Inspiration In Practice

I am always taken aback when someone tells me how inspiring my life is to them. It certainly makes my heart happy that I am helping others consider options that they may not have thought possible originally and I am so grateful for the reminder of the ripples my life generates.

I love to set big goals that most would shy away from because I have learned that there is as much ability to reach an amazing goal as an average one! I have also learned by stretching myself over the years that I am far more capable than I allow myself to believe most days.

I want to let you all in on the whole story though – I have the same fears, insecurities and self-doubts as everyone and I don’t always get it right.

Leaper

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Look, you all have been in my world long enough to know I’m a leaper. I have had tremendous success and a few epic failures. I know there is more than one side to this coin I’ve chosen for my journey.

What fuels my courage?

The possibilities of each leap I take are my main inspiration.  I do a lot of research on the bigger leaps I take, but there is always an unknown. I plan for what I can and anticipate as much as possible, however I have learned that I cannot control the outcome.

I have  learned that control an illusion, and my grandest idea of the best outcome is limited by my experiences. There might be a far greater outcome possible if I get out of my own way and let it unfold!

Epic Failures

I have also had the benefit of failures of epic proportions both business and personal. The benefit to these experiences is that at my lowest point, I was never out. I got pretty low and close to the absolute bottom and I learned that if you jump in a body of water and hit the bottom, you can propel yourself to the top at a speed that shatters a slow swim from the middle!

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Plan B

My sister and I have a history of making plans that somehow might just not turn out exactly as we originally planned. My Type A sister has come a long way and now without any hesitation will say, “Oh well! What’s plan B?”

We call ourselves the Plan B Girls now because it never riles us and because we have a goal in mind and we are determined to figure out a way to get to what is important. We have have learned not to waste time with what could have been and go around what is inconvenient or unplanned to reach our end goal.  It’s brilliant!

When Contingency Planning Gets In The Way

I am a risk manager by trade (20+ years in the legal field will do this to you) however, there are times when you can sabotage your goal by planning on “what if’s”.

Sure I recognize that things won’t always go the way I am hoping and planning. When setting goals with others and myself, examining the full picture is critical to be prepared for what might come up.

Be careful though not to scare yourself right out of your dream!

Right before I left California I almost did this to myself. I was halfway done selling all my items and planning my move to another country and I woke up one morning in a complete panic!

What if my clients don’t follow me online?

What if I get to Panama and I don’t have any way to make money?

What will I do if I can’t run my business in Panama?

I worked myself up so much that I actually considered scrapping the entire move and going back to the workforce and getting another paralegal job (gasp!)

My Truth

It was in the moment that I was considering scrapping my business and getting a “real job” that the nausea set in. It was immediate and visceral and unable to be ignored.

The one thing I have learned is that my body speaks to me! In those moments of self-doubt and insecurity when I retreat to the familiar, my body says, “I don’t think so! You don’t belong there anymore, you’ve learned what you were supposed to – time to move on!”

Wow, I’m so glad for this!

Conviction

In the case of my Panama move, well, you all know how that turned out and I am happy to say, I’m having one of the most successful years in my business to date.

I had to do a couple of things to get here though:

  1. Decide that this was the path I wanted and it was indeed possible to succeed.
  2. Determine what markers I would use to signal a need to reassess my move.

Once those two items were in place, I was ready to move on with confidence that I would not hit total bottom and become homeless in Panama before reassessing my options. I further committed to making it work because I believed in my business and I’d seen my clients follow me when I moved from Boston, so I had proof it could happen.

Your Turn

So now I ask you, are you talking yourself out of what you really want to accomplish? Is there a possibility you are selling yourself short?  I am certain you are far more capable than you give yourself credit for!

I encourage you to set your real goals this year, you know the ones I’m talking about, the ones that maybe you’re even a little afraid to tell others about because maybe they’ll laugh or try to talk you out of them.

As I head forward into a new year in a new location, I am filled with gratitude for this audience with whom share my journey. It is you who continue to inspire me to see how high I might reach and if I in turn inspire you a bit to reach as well – then I am doubly grateful!

Let’s do this!

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In Pursuit of Crow Pose

I have recently returned from a week away at a yoga retreat.  This was one of those things I’ve always wanted to do, but for one reason or another, had never actually done.  I can’t even tell you how I heard about this event, or why it came across my radar, but when I saw it something said I needed to do it now and this was the one.

Our initial evening we were asked to write our intentions for the week.  What did I want to get out of the week?

I was stumped!

This goal girl had no goals for the week, except, maybe to finally get into crow pose for more than a millisecond before toppling.

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Toppling crow

As I pondered this question and searched my soul to figure out my goal for the week, I realized it was just to have this experience.  My goal was to let the week unfold and teach me what it wanted and for me to just be curious and a allow myself to be a novice in this experience.

Now you all know, I am an action person, I like to set goals, make plans, allow them to change but always I seem to have my eye on some prize, some goal.

I have begun to explore another way, to see if there may be times when I would benefit by allowing life to unfold for me. The idea to not drive my life every step of the way and to allow the path to reveal itself with each step is new for me and I’m seeing how much it might benefit me to listen, watch how each move I make changes the landscape before me.

I’m not saying that I believe sitting on a couch eating bon bons is the way for me, nor do I believe you can just OM your way to a fulfilling life. I am saying, maybe releasing my grip on the driving wheel might have some benefits at this point in my life. How about you?

The challenge for me is to find a way to both allow life to unfold while still having a strong direction and taking action and steps. Lord knows I can’t just sit around and wait for life to happen to me – I’m never going to be THAT chill!

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For example, the action I took was to attend the yoga retreat, the release and the unfolding was that when one came across my plate and it struck me, I didn’t question it and I jumped on board. Once I determined I was in a safe space, I further released to the unfolding and allowed all of the people I came into contact with during that week to teach me and share whatever it was they chose to share.

I did not have a list of questions to ask others nor did I have any agenda of accomplishments I hoped to achieve. I did not have to be the best yogi, I did not know anything about the topics that were being taught.  In fact, I knew very little about the stories that were shared or any of the activities or rituals that occurred during the week. I was in a “child’s mindset” which I could have embraced or fought – I chose to embrace it.

Curiosity Is Action

What I learned during this week was precious and not entirely what I could have thought to put into an intention at the beginning.

One of the most important items I continue to learn as I practice my crow pose, is to take careful assessment of how I feel, align myself well, take my time as I move and concentrate on the moment as I look forward, let go and trust myself.

Although you may or may not be a practicing yogi, I believe these lessons may prove helpful in all that you pursue.

Are there places in your life that you are safe enough to let go of the driver’s wheel, be a novice and just be curious? Are there times when you are so busy setting goals and being the best you can be that you miss what others share with you?

I encourage you this month to consider where you might loosen your grip on the driver’s wheel in your life to trust and allow some of life to unfold for you and show you what it has to teach you.

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Gratitude In Practice

IMG_0798The practice of gratitude gets a lot of publicity each November in the US. The tradition of gathering together in community and sharing harvest was the custom we have since derived this tradition around giving thanks each year.  The very inception of the practice was an act of sharing abundance.

In this season of heightened awareness, I see people begin to post their 30 days of gratitude, which is always sweet, but somehow it often seems to be missing something for me. This practice feels incomplete to me.

As always, not being one to leave something untouched I took some time to uncover what about this month of statements of gratefulness left to be desired in my opinion. I stumbled upon the same issue I have with the “law of attraction.”

For those that know me, and know me well, it probably comes as no surprise to you that I find the need to add action in this practice. The whole idea of simply speaking or writing words of gratitude either privately or publicly falls flat for me without any action tied to it.

So where am I going with this you ask?

I think the practice of gratitude or giving thanks involves more than words. I think if someone or something has made such a difference in your life as to merit gratitude there must be something you could pay forward from it.

So in practice, I thought about my own gratitude and took an example from my own life. I am thoroughly grateful for my health and my ability to gather in community to exercise. The running groups, boot camps and fitness groups I have connected with over the years have made the difference to me in my attendance, enthusiasm and ultimately my overall fitness.

I could be privately grateful, I could even acknowledge them to my social media, directly to the organizers or even write a note of thanks or send them a gift to let them know how much their products, tools and organizations have helped me. This would feel good to me and if it was not a private silent gratitude, I’m sure it would feel good to them as well.

However…

I haven’t done this, I have decided to pay my gratitude forward thus adding a ring to the ripple effect that was begun with me. I began a fitness group in my new community. I created a space for people to join together to become the same type of support that brought me through the beginning stages of creating a fitness habit.

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Do you see how the latter effort adds giving to the thanks? This perpetuates the goodness I’ve experienced in my life and offers it to others. The ability to recognize the importance of something in your life and to translate that to share it with others is the highest form of gratitude I can think of.

Bringing this all forward, giving thanks for something is simply the first step, the follow up to this is to determine what actions created this in your life and what

action of gratitude or appreciation could bring this same joy I am feeling to another. To be grateful for your health is one thing, and to offer this great gift to another is the opportunity to expand the beauty.

Being grateful for something is not the end game, it is simply the beginning of the process. Recognizing something, especially the small things, is the first step to identifying its importance in your life.

Gratitude without action seems to me like a missed opportunity. For me it is important to express in a meaningful way my gratitude to a particular person in a way that identifies their importance in my world. To then share my gratitude in a tangible way instead of a silent prayer in solitude brings life and energy to that which I adore having in my life.

I encourage you to think about those things for which you are grateful during this month. Once you have your gratefulness in mind, think about how you might be able to share or create these experiences, feelings or things in someone else’s life.

The cycle of gratitude begins with acknowledgement and is amplified by sharing the gift.

My gift to you this month is this practice of sharing your gratitude with others.

-E

Who Are Your 1,500 People?

WDS in LightsAnother year of WDS has passed and although the lead up to it this year was different for me, the result seems to only get better.

There are many reasons why WDS is on my list each year as a “must budget for” conference. There are the amazing speakers, many of whom I don’t know until I get there, the academies by some of my favorite mentors and of course Portland, it is such a wild and amazing city, it’s a definite draw.

I will say though that when the stage darkens and the closing party is over, it is the people I have met that I carry with me from this experience.

IMG_2460Each year I am amazed at the number of people from all walks of life and with all different ideas and methods about how to make this world just a wee bit better. My spirit is always renewed that this many people care – just simply care about me, you and helping others live good lives doing nice things.

I spend the days, weeks and months after WDS reaching out to those I’ve met, following their progress on social media and supporting them in any way I can because we are now connected. I recognize faces even though I may not know their names or names that I can’t place the face to, but I feel a bond because I know we have a common ground through WDS.

I see people from this group soaring through the clouds doing amazing things and I am not jealous, I am grateful because I know a rising tide lifts all boats in the harbor. I reach out to those in the community with compatible projects or skills and look for ways to share or combine our gifts to create even bigger impact.

In this space I feel no competition; I feel unity and encouragement. I feel as though we have a common purpose with unique solutions that combined could really dominate the world in a great way!

IMG_2549The five people I spend the most time with are very important indeed, and I can say most of them are WDS attendees, but the 1,500 I spend a week with each year have an enormous impact on how I feel about what I can accomplish and how big I can dare to dream.

Thank you for the assembly of these stars in my life, they are a necessary beacon throughout the year. They are as reliable as nightfall and they often are there to help me through the inevitable storms to the next sunrise.

A Few of my 1,500!

A Few of my 1,500!

Independence Day Rewrite

Independence Day

I was seven years old when my parents divorced and my mother went from being a housewife to the main provider in the home while battling her first stage III diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Disease, a lymphoma.

I got a clear message from my mother at that time, not sure if it was said, or simply implied, or both, but she was determined that her three girls would not be dependent on anyone, they would be independent women! Even after she remarried, her theme was clear and consistent, you will learn all the skills and capabilities you need to not be reliant on anyone.

True to form, when I got my license, like any teenager, I was anxious to take the car out and feel my newfound freedom. My mother had no problem with that, but of course, I first had to demonstrate that I could remove and replace a flat tire if need be.

This is one of the many examples of the teachings that I received. Being raised to be independent has some great freedoms with it; I know I can do anything I need to do to get where I want to be. Unfortunately, I can no longer change a tire, because of those darn air guns that put the lug nuts on so tightly I don’t have even enough weight to jump on a crossbar to get them off! That said, I am rarely left stranded in a situation because I was raised to rely on myself to figure it out and get it done.

The other message that I never quite picked up on clearly enough at the time was that in life you’ll get further by building a team and asking for help, or even just comfort when needed. While battling her illnesses over the years, my mother had regular trips into the city for radiation, chemotherapy and numerous appointments. She was often too weak or tired to cook or maintain the home and of course there was the time spent in the hospital, complicated by single parenthood and what to do with the kids!

Everyone that knew my mother recognized her as a force! She was well known in our community as a “get it done” and independent woman. She was smart, driven and capable, however these traits did not stop her from accepting kind gestures of meals being prepared, driving trips into the city or even carpooling so us kids could get to where we needed. It took years for me to recognize this skill is not only important in life, but makes the journey better.

Let’s face it, the human race was not meant to exist alone. We are community-based creatures with need for connection and interaction. So many people are trying to “do it on their own” this relates to everything from work to entrepreneurship to life’s trials and celebrations.

It took me such a long time to figure out how to reach out for help, accept or invite assistance with anything I was trying to do – even when it was just trying to survive! All this has taken even longer to put it into practice, and let’s face it, I am still working on it, but I am convinced inter-dependence is the one of the keys to happiness.

As wonderful as independence is, our lives are more fully lived when we have connection and inter-dependence. The feeling one gets when they help someone is a gift we give to each other. The distance we can go when we work together is much further than what we can cover alone.

I’m not saying not to develop your own talents and skills, nor am I saying rely on others for everything. What I am saying is that you don’t have to know it all, do it all and manage it all alone.

I encourage you this month to look at what you want to accomplish over the upcoming month, and see where you might reach out for assistance or develop a team. One of the beautiful benefits I see each day as a coach is what can be accomplished together.

I know there are amazing dreams, big goals and everyday tasks that are on your plate, I wonder how much easier, faster and enjoyable they will be when you stop trying to do it all yourself and ask for someone to join your efforts.

 

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?