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|Mon, November 30, 2015 at 3:02 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
This weekend I had a wonderful holiday retreat at my brother's home in Springfield, Massachusetts. Each year he goes all out with his festive décor, but this year he took it to a whole new level. In his front yard you can find everything from your typical toy soldiers and reindeer to a fully illuminated elephant and hot air balloon. Upon my arrival I could see that he clearly had the rest of his block beat with his elaborate display...
That is until his neighbors came out on that sunny Friday afternoon, and even the following soggy Saturday morning and got to work. My brother and my brother in law peeked through the windows and the door like super sleuths. I teasingly told them that they could easily be the stars of a new hit reality show that might be called, "Christmas Light Wars: Springfield Edition." They kept me thoroughly entertained throughout the weekend with their silliness, snickers and sneers about how their neighbors were trying to copy their seasonal style. I couldn't help but smile.
Our jolly good time made me think about how much fun it would be if our main battles in life were centered around the fight for light. Their holiday cheer was contagious. It inspired their neighbors to match or exceed the amount of light that was shining from both the exterior and interior of their home. Ultimately, it added to the collective beauty and positive spirit of the entire block.
What if we shed so much light through our presence, energy, words and deeds that it inspired others in the path of our bright rays to do the same? What if when we found ourselves in a dark place in our lives, we surrounded ourselves with people who gave off such light?
This season I encourage you to be the light, share the light or find some light to get into. While you are there, make sure to keep your balance. Remember, too much darkness or too much light can both be blinding.
|Mon, October 19, 2015 at 7:43 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Many seeds are edible. Therefore they serve a dual purpose. They can be eaten and they can be planted. If we eat them they give us satisfaction for a moment, some nourishment, and a limited supply of energy. If we plant or sow them, they will multiply and reap an abundant harvest.
Now think about the seeds that are in your life. What do you do with them? Are you looking for a quick fix or long term benefit?
The seeds in our lives are our money, time, talents, and energy. Figuratively eating those seeds translates to things like get rich quick schemes, rapid weight loss, and other means of instant gratification. We don't want to wait. We want it all now. What we fail to realize is that by indulging in the small pleasure now, we are actually taking a huge loss in the long run.
Imagine how much more we could have if we planted those seeds. Imagine how infinite the possibilities would be if we invested our money, time, energy and talents into things that would cause them to grow and flourish as opposed to dead end situations, things and people that reap no harvest.
Here is an example of eating the seed versus planting the seed that I want you to consider. Think about which side of the spectrum you are currently operating in, and then think about where you want to be...
You spent $500 in a weekend on an outfit, some shoes, eating out at restaurants, buying drinks, paying cover charges, and parking fees. You looked good, had a funky good time, ate well, and drank well. The next morning you have a headache, perhaps a temporary one from a hangover, or maybe the start of a lingering one from a consequence that was a result of your actions. The fun is over. You ate the seed.
You invested $500 in real estate by placing a bid in a property auction, or going in with a partner to acquire a low cost property in your city. Once you own the property, you rehabilitate it, and sell it for three times more than what you invested, which is still be affordable. Now you have simultaneously iseeds are edible. Therefore they serve a dual purpose. They can be eaten and they can be planted. If we eat them they give us satisfaction for a moment, some nourishment, and a limited supply of energy. If we plant or sow them, they will multiply and reap an abundant harvest.
Eating the seed is easy because we believe that it's safe, secure and it feels good right now. Planting the seed is scary because it feels like a risk. Like faith, once we plant that seed, it becomes something that we cannot see immediately. But just because we can't see it, does that mean that it's not there? Taking the planting route may be difficult at times. Things may occur in the process that knock us down or beat us down to the ground, but remember, it is from the ground where all things grow and there is nowhere to go from there but up.
Before this year comes to an end, I challenge you to plant a seed that you might have otherwise eaten. If you want the harvest, you must sow the seed
|Mon, October 12, 2015 at 10:50 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
I was watching the movie Couples Retreat yesterday and toward the end, a line that actor Vince Vaughn said really stuck with me. He was talking to a friend that hadn't been taking his marriage seriously when he said, Ã¢â‚¬Å"If it matters, work at it...if not, move on to something else."
All too often we find ourselves in situations that we complain about, yet we stick around. We are obviously sticking around for a reason. Instead of continuing to just exist in such comfortable situations, we must ask ourselves if this job, this person, this project, or this goal really matters to us. If it does, we must get out of our complacent state and work to make it work. If we are not going to put in the work we must either stop complaining...or move on.
We are doing no justice to ourselves or the other people involved if we continue to stay around. It's kind of like that kid in the classroom, or that person in the office that has a cold. The school and the office management would rather that they just stay at home instead of spreading the germs and making everyone sick.
If you aren't happy with a situation, you'll ultimately exude negative energy, which is also contagious. Beyond that, it sucks the life out of people.
Today I challenge you to take inventory of your life and identify an area that you are not giving all that you know that you can. What can you do to improve the situation? In reflecting upon this situation, if you find that it really, truly matters to you, then put in the work to make it work, or do everyone a favor and let go and move on. Moving on is not always a bad thing. It may be just what's needed to liberate you and those who were affected by your actions or inaction.
My guess is that if it is a relationship with a loved one, as was the case in the movie...it probably does matter to you. So don't take another second taking that person for granted. As soon as you're done reading this, let them know how much they mean to you and why, and then begin devising a plan of action to put in the work to make it work
|Mon, October 5, 2015 at 11:22 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Lately I've been exploring meditation in an attempt to quiet my ever racing mind. I've also heard that prayer is you talking to God and meditation is you sitting back quietly to listen for His response. So now, instead of rambling on my long prayers and going about my day immediately after, I've tacked on some meditation time at the end of each prayer to listen to what God has to say back to me.
One day last week I set aside some very intentional quiet time to really get deep into the prayer and meditation. In so many words, the response that I got during my meditation was, "You're doing too much." This made so much sense because I've come to realize that I tend to over book myself. This doesn't mean that I'm scheduling things at the same time, but I'm not really giving myself time to thoroughly breath, reflect, and rest in between appointments and engagements.
I've come to learn that just because a block of time is not filled on your calendar or in your day planner, it doesn't mean that it's really available. I've had days where I schedule appointments, book signings, meetings and calls back to back to back just because the space is free on my calendar. What I don't account for is transitions, down time, travel time and the fact that I am not a robot and that I might just get tired somewhere along the way like humans often do.
When I was given the message that I was doing too much, an example was also revealed to me. Now that my business travel is beginning to slow up a bit, I'd decided that I was going to commit to thirty days of focus to tie up a lot of loose ends in my life. God was like, "Why does it have to be thirty days? Why can't you just start by committing to like two days and see how that goes?" Again, this made so much sense for me because I definitely have a tendency to make grand plans, then I find myself either overwhelmed by them or disappointed with myself because I've abandoned them.
Another area where I tend to do too much is within my thoughts. I have formed a nasty little habit of sweating the small stuff, instead of focusing on the big picture. Sometimes we all stress ourselves out by thinking about, paying attention to and entertaining some of the most trivial things. Let's use a dating situation as a common example of this...
A man and a woman are dating. The woman spends a lot of time and energy paying attention to all of the other young ladies that are attracted to or interested in her man. She overlooks the fact that she gets all of his time, attention and affection, and focuses on all of these women that are making comments on his Facebook page or following him on Twitter. Instead of focusing on the positive big picture, she is zeroed in on the insignificant small picture. My advice to her would be, "If you are the quarterback, why in the world are you worried about who's on the bench?" Keep your head in the game and go for the win!
Do you see where I'm going with this?
This week I challenge you to UNDER Book yourself for a change and OVER Look the small stuff that doesn't even matter in the larger scheme of things. As your personal guinea pig for positive change I can assure you that your life will begin to improve instantly
|Mon, September 28, 2015 at 9:31 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
We have a tendency to torture ourselves. We over book ourselves. We take on more than we can handle. We help other people more than we help ourselves. Do any of these behaviors sound familiar?
What I have eventually come to realize is that in the past I made my life a lot harder than it had to be. Sometimes we take our lives and ourselves way too seriously. As an entrepreneur, I am my own boss. But as people, we are all the bosses of our own lives. Therefore, we have the power to make our lives work for us.
How can you readjust your day to day routine to reduce unnecessary stress? Here are a couple of simple suggestions...
Pay Yourself First
When I say this, I don't just mean money. Time and energy are just as valuable as money. Do something for yourself first, before you begin to think about what needs to be done for the children, what needs to be done around the house, or what you need to do for work. Each day, I exercise first, which sets a nice tone for the rest of my day and helps me to have more energy, less stress, and peace of mind in knowing that I took care of myself first.
It doesn't have to take two hours. It may just be that you spend the first five minutes of your day in prayer, enjoying your favorite breakfast, or reading a chapter of a juicy novel. When we neglect ourselves and put all of our energy into others, resentment begins to creep in and take over our joy. When you put yourself first, if only for a moment, you will feel much better about the things that you do for everyone else.
Make Time For Fun
Some people play too much, but most people don't play enough. Play is an integral part of the human experience. So make some time for fun, or those things that you've always wanted to do. Reintroduce spontaneity into your life.
Go to a carnival, arcade or movie with your mate. Read a book for enjoyment instead of business or school. Make a spur of the moment decision, throw caution to the wind and just do it!
This week I challenge you to come up with a simple and manageable plan to make your life work for you. You are the boss of you, so take charge and adjust accordingly
|Mon, September 14, 2015 at 10:47 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Life is like a piece of meat. In order to get the most out of it, there are certain things that need to be done in order to ensure the best possible flavor, texture and satisfaction. Flavor is all about taste. When you taste something you experience it and life is all about experiences. The challenge is making those experiences high quality and meaningful. Texture is all about the feel of something. In order to live a fulfilled life, we must tend to our feelings in a healthy way as opposed to ignoring, disregarding them or acting on them before we truly understand them. Satisfaction is the culmination of everything because at the end of the day, you want to get the most out of every experience which will lead to you feeling great about yourself and your life. So the question is, how do we make these things happen? Let's look at how we prepare a piece of meat.
Step One: Clean the meat.
Cleaning out your mind and your life can be as simple as making the time to take a deep, cleansing and restorative breath more than once a day, or as complex as clearing out things and people that may be harmful.
Step Two: Season the meat.
Spice things up! This directly relates to a question that I like to ask myself and others. Are you just living your life, going through the basic every day motions to get by? Or are you experiencing life to the fullest by savoring every moment? Add some variety. If your level of living is on mild, kick things up a notch or two to medium or hot! Have you been wearing your hair straight with a part on the side for years? Adding the seasoning is as simple as adding some curls or cutting in some layers. Seasoning is about change. What can you do to mix things up?
Step Three: Let it marinate.
One of my signature statements when I teach, speak or facilitate a training is, "Let it marinate." This basically means to take some time to let it sink in so that you can process your thoughts, reactions and ideas about a particular statement or experience. Too often we go through life without stopping to take the time to reflect on our experiences. Reflection is a powerful tool because it helps us to learn and grow by thinking about what went well and what we would change or do differently next time. It also gives us an opportunity to celebrate our successes.
Step Four: Cook the meat.
Cooking the meat represents the actions that we take once we have cleansed, contemplated change, and reflected upon previous experiences. Your cooking, or actions must be well planned and timed. For instance, if we cook meat too long it burns or comes out tough. I liken this to when we spend too much time worrying about things that we cannot change or things that are beyond our control. Or when we sit on an idea or talent too long that we know that we should have released by now to make the world a better place. If we don't cook meat long enough or at the proper temperature, it may come out raw and ultimately make us sick. This parallels our tendency to make decisions and take actions prematurely. It's all about timing. There must be a balance.
I could go on and take this as far as eating, digestion and beyond, but I'll stop at having you consider what the necessary tools are for you to enjoy your dish that is your life. With meat, you'll need a fork and a sharp knife. What utensils will help you to dig in to your life and cut through the literal and figurative clutter?
This week, my challenge to you is to ask yourself the following questions...
What needs to be cleaned up in my life?
What needs to be changed in my life?
What do I need to spend some time mentally processing?
What is my plan of action?
What tools do I need?
Now let that marinate
|Mon, August 31, 2015 at 11:25 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Some of the most profound advice and wisdom that I have ever received on life and living has come from children.
When my nephew was 5 years old he and his grandmother (my Mom) got into a heated debate. He wanted to watch what he wanted to watch on the nice new TV that my brother and I got her for her birthday while jumping on her bed. She was usually quite patient with his antics because he was just so darn cute, but this time she just couldn't take it anymore. Needless to say, the disagreement ended with him in tears when he caught her off guard by saying,
"Grandma, you tipped my bucket."
"What?" my mother said, not familiar with the term that he had used.
"I said, you tipped my bucket."
"Well, what does that mean?" She asked.
"When you make someone angry or upset, you tip their bucket, so you say you're sorry to fill their bucket back up."
Needless to say, she was sold on the idea, so they hugged and made up after which he said,
"Thank you Grandma, now my bucket is full."
Wow! If only adults could make it that simple. We argue, hold grudges, talk behind each others backs, post on Facebook and do everything else short of addressing the issues at hand directly. In his own simple way my nephew introduced my mother to a method to use to reframe conflict. They discussed how each of their behaviors affected the other person, they acknowledged one another's feelings, and they came up with a plan together for moving forward.
When I called for an interview he had no comment, so I asked him to call me back the next day and with reluctance and a little coercion from my mother he did just that. The few words that he did have for me left a major impact...
"Aunt Munka (His pronunciation of my name at that time), We want to be bucket fillers."
This week I encourage you to take my nephew's advice. Face it. Address it. Communicate about it. Become a bucket filler
|Mon, August 24, 2015 at 9:43 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
If you have ever been in a motor vehicle you've probably seen the following message on the side view mirrors, "Objects in Mirror are Closer Than They Appear."Ã‚Â This means that while other vehicles, trash cans, bikes and people may seem like they are far away, that are actually much closer to you than you think.
This made me think about life, and how sometimes we don't consider how the people and things that are in our immediate view, are much more closely related to us than we realize. Who and what surrounds you is a reflection of you. We may look at the life or situation of someone else and pass judgement, but if they are within our view, their circumstances might be much closer to our own than we think.
So, before we complain about our boss, significant other, co-workers, friends, children, financial situation or neighborhood, we might want to take a look internally. The very things that we take issue with are closer to us and our behaviors than they appear. They may be a reflection of something that we are putting out into the atmosphere.
The beauty of this process is that it goes both ways. If you see someone around you doing well, and wish you had their blessings or luck or whatever it is that you believe in...those great things may be closer to you than you think as well.
We are often a reflection of our environment and our environment is often a reflection of us. What is in your distant view that you think may have nothing to do with you?
This week I challenge you to take a look in the mirror that is your life. What do you see? The things that are captured in the reflection, the things that you are near or that you allow near to you are closer to you and your reality than they appear. So what will you get or allow near? Get in proximity with those things that add value and drive away from those things that may cause you to crash.
We often look ahead, which is important, but what or who is at your side and behind you may be the very things that are propelling your forward...or holding you back.
Check your side view and your rear view mirrors and move accordingly.