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The Remarkable Benefits of Purpose

Victor Frankel learned a lot about human behavior by observing people under the most inhuman circumstances.

Victor wasn’t just observing the behaviors of others under horrible conditions. He was also living under these oppressive conditions.

Victor and the people he observed were beaten mercilessly, forced to do grueling manual labor, and randomly executed.

Victor’s observations of human behavior occured in concentration camps. There many people declared “undesirables” were subjected to brutal, inhumane treatment on a daily basis.

Victor learned from his “observations” the secret to human survival.

He noted that it wasn’t those with most physical strength who were able to endure and survive this harsh treatment.

The best survivors were people who found purpose in the midst of their suffering.

Those people who lost their purpose died.

This surprising observation, led Victor to the insightful conclusion:

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose … He who has a WHY to live, can bear with almost any HOW.”

Victor Frank documents his  experiences and insights in his groundbreaking book Man’s Search For Meaning.

I encourage you to read or re-read this amazing book. I find it to be an inspiring and insightful account of the centrality of purpose to the human experience.

As I recently reflected on the importance of purpose, I identified three distinctive benefits that come from having a clear purpose in our lives.

This list of the benefits of purpose is not meant to be comprehensive. But it reflects what I believe to be the most valuable gifts we gain from knowing and living our life purpose.

I hope this list inspires you to take invest in discovering and expressing your life purpose.

Here are the three top benefits that we gain from having a clear sense of purpose in our lives.

1. Purpose Produces Clarity and Focus

Discovering your life purpose will give you focus.

It will help you to make decisions in a way that’s easier and less stressful.

This is because purpose helps you to identify what’s important in life. This will help you be less conflicted and experience less anxiety about saying no.

You are free to make decisions about how you spend your time, money, and energy based on whether it aligns with your life purpose.

There are lots of wonderful things that you could be doing with your time or with your money. But they are not all good things for you to do. Having a clear sense of your purpose helps you to distinguish between the two.

When I first started my career as a college professor, I was so excited to finally have position that I’d worked towards for so many years. I wanted to be of service to the students, the community, and my University colleagues.

I was overcommitted and stressed out!

I found myself getting involved with something just because it was a good idea. But, as I got more clear on my purpose I decided that I could not invest in every good idea presented to me.

Before I agreed to take on any new commitments, projects, relationships, I asked myself a critical question:

“Is this in line with my purpose?”

This was how I raised the bar in my life.

Now, it’s much easier for me to say “no” to most requests. This habit makes it possible for me to give a resounding “yes” to the opportunities aligned with my purpose.

purpose helps you say no

I now have the time, resources, and energy to invest in the things that are important to me. I am able to do this without feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.

My purpose has given me focus.

2. Purpose Gives You Longer Life

Having a clear advice purpose helps you to live longer and a healthier life.

A study published in the 2014 issue of Psychological Science, documents the life extending effect of purpose.

In this national study, the researchers survey people and asked them to rate their sense of purpose in life from low to high.

Fourteen years later, those participants with a low sense of purpose were much more likely to have died. All other things being equal, having a sense of purpose made all the difference in their life expectancy.

I was surprise to find this relationship holds true in every age group.

It wasn’t just for older people that having a sense of purpose help them to live longer.  It was true for middle aged people and for people in their twenties.

The researchers concluded that having a sense of purpose gives people “protective benefits” to their life. Purpose enhances your physical well-being and has a cumulative effect.

So it’s actually better to develop a sense of purpose as early on as possible. This gives you more time to continue accumulating all the benefits that come with having a strong sense of purpose.

But, it’s never too late to invest time in discovering you purpose.

At whatever moment you get clear your purpose and start living out that purpose, it will extend your life.

3. Purpose Builds Up Your Resilience

Resilience allows you to bounce back from the setbacks that are inevitable in life.

When you’re resilient you, setbacks don’t stop you. Resilient people are able to use those setbacks as stepping stones to their success.

Resilience is the result of having a clear sense of your purpose.

Once you understand why a goal is important to you, you can overcome tremendous obstacles to acheive that goal.

Think about the remarkable survivors that Victor Frankl observed. They did not break even under brutal inhumane treatment. Their purpose gave them to resilience to endure.

live on purposeI often think about Nelson Mandela who spent 27 years in prison. Yet, he was able to walk directly into world leadership upon from his release.

I’ve spent years teaching in prisons and I know that prison is a horrible place for anyone to be. Everyday, in both big and small ways, there are constant assaults on your safety, dignity, and humanity.

But because Nelson Mandela was clear on his purpose, he was able to walk out of prison as a whole man with a vision.

Mandela’s strong sense of purpose enabled him to lead South Africa into a new era of peace and  justice.

That’s the power of purpose.

Discover Your Purpose

When I’m talking with people about the importance of purpose, people often tell me that don’t know their life purpose. And that they don’t know how to discover it.

The best way to start uncovering your life purpose by reflecting on how you already bring value to others. Think about times in your life where you’ve made a difference in somebody’s life.

Your purpose is for others. Thinking about the ways you already add value to others can help you better understand your purpose.

Another reflection to get clarity on your life purpose is to consider the activities that place you in your flow.

What are the things you do that give you a feeling of timelessness?

These are activities that you could be doing this two hours, but it feels like just twenty minutes. That’s your flow.  It’s that kind of work where you are so fully engaged in the process that time seems to disappear.

Your flow is an excellent window into your purpose.

As you clarify your life purpose, you want to highlight it and expand it. This means organizing more of your activities and goals living out your purpose.

For those who are ready to live a life of purpose that connects with your passions, join us for a FREE 5-Day Challenge to Creating a Life Filled with Energy and Passion.

This challenge empowers you to create a life of purpose that fills you with energy and passion, drastically reduces your stress, and allows you to accomplish your most important goals.

How would it feel to be filled with confidence, energy, and be extraordinarily productive? 

Whether you are struggling to stay above the growing to-do lists or wanting to get the most out of each day, this 5-Day Productivity Challenge will give you simple and powerful tools to help you tap into your unique talents and energy to create the rich and rewarding life you deserve!

Get from under the pile of unending tasks, connect with your purpose, and reclaim your life. Click here to join our 5-Day Challenge to a life filled with energy and passion!

Having a strong sense of purpose benefits you and others. Commit to discovering and nurturing your purpose today!

Wishing you a life filled with meaning, purpose, and joy!

3 Ways to Improve Your Success in 2017

We open the book. It’s pages are blank. The book is called Opportunity; its first chapter is today.

Each New Year’s eve, we create a list of resolutions and promises to ourselves. Some people promise themselves to eat healthy and eat less fat. Some focus on spending quality time with their family. Others plan to pursue their passion. To finally fulfill the desires burning inside them.

 

But most times, we find ourselves unable to stick to the routine or timetable we had planned out for the new year. The lives we lead are already quite tough and hectic. No matter how hard we try, we are often find ourselves unable to stay committed to our new routine.

 

This is why 92% of all New Years Resolutions fail.

 

But that does not mean that you should give up on setting goals.

 

Goals are an important part of our success. Goals move us forward into better versions of ourselves. Goals motivate us to do the hard things in life. Goals allow us to focus our attention and energy in ways that can make the most impact.

 

Our goals are the secret longings of our hearts. They lead us into becoming more fully the people we are meant to be.

 

So here’s what you can do to be successful in your goal setting efforts.  Here are three ways you can avoid the most common goal setting mistakes:

 

  1. Dream Big and Start Small

 

The key is not to immediately commit yourself to a whole new routine. The habits that we have adopted have taken years to develop. These habits  are not changed in a matter of a week or a month for that matter.

If your goal is to lose 10lbs and you commit yourself to exercising daily for at least half an hour, going for a walk in the evening and eat less at every meal, you will quickly become overwhelmed and frustrated. You may start doing all three activities at the beginning of the year. But you might tire of one activity or become inconsistent. This inconsistent routine will not create your desired weight loss. Thus you can lose your motivation real fast because you are working hard but not seeing results.

The secret is in taking it slow. Develop a positive momentum and go easy on yourself can ensure that you stick to your routine in the long run.

Pick just one of those activities to help you with your weight loss goal. Do that activity consistently and track your progress. Then after 1-2 weeks of consistently performing your first healthy habit, add in another. This gradual process will build healthy habits, keep you motivated, and produce permanent results.

  1. Stay Fixated on Your Goal and Flexible in Your Approach

 

Your hectic work routine might become an obstacle to achieving your goal. You might be working late on the weekend and have to skip the evening walk. Or you might be eating out all week with friends which will ruin the ”eat less” plan. It can be hard to say no to friends or pending work.

Yet, you can plan for your success by practicing flexible thinking. Perhaps you want to adjust your walk time on the weekends. Or maybe you include one splurge meal in your weekly eating plan.

Expect there to be obstacles to your goal. Keep your eyes on your goal, but remain flexible in your approach. This enables you to stay focused on your goal and achieve results regardless of the ups and downs of your day or week.

 

 

  1. Track Your Progress to Maintain Your Motivation

 

To transform your new year’s resolution into reality, you need to measure your success. How will you know when you have achieved your goal? What significant milestones will there be along the way? How will you celebrate each milestone and goal achieved?

For each goal, there are lots of potential pays you could measure your success. For you fitness goal, you could measure: lbs lost, inches lost, BMI, %body fat, speed, muscle endurance, cardiovascular endurance. You pick the form of measurement that fits best with your goal. Just make sure that it’s easy to watch and commit to tracking it daily.

Also commit to celebrating all the small wins you will achieve on your way to your completed goal. After every small feat you achieve, give yourself a planned reward. Make sure that the reward is in line with your goal. The reward is a way of thanking yourself for doing the hard work to achieve your goal. Expressing gratitude for the results will keep you motivated and effective.

 

Goals and Your Success

 

People who are the highest achievers have figured out how to effectively set and achieve goals in ALL areas of their lives.

 

I believe in you. I know you have what it takes.

 

But, if you’re not careful you could easily fall into the many traps that prevent most people from reaching their goal.

 

High achievers are able to avoid the common traps that keep most people stuck and frustrated. High achievers effectively design a life that reflects their own personalized vision of success.

 

Discover the “success secrets” that distinguish high achievers from most people. My webinar Make 2017 Your Best Year Ever! will reveal three specific success secrets to fuel your goal setting efforts. Registration for the webinar is free, but space is limited. Reserve your seat today!

 

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” -Maria Robinson

 

A year from now you can be living out the dreams you have carried with you all these years.

 

Here’s to you and your success in creating your new beginning…. Cheers!

 

 

Ignoring Willpower Can Cost You Money, Relationships, & Your Health

willpower leads to success

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison

Willpower is something that we tend to believe is a zero sum game. Some people are blessed with endless reserves of willpower and others just aren’t. This idea might comfort those of us who consider ourselves in the latter category. But, it is a dangerous belief to maintain. Willpower is critical to the success of our careers, relationships, and health.  We can all learn how to improve this critical skill that produces benefits in all areas of our life.

The Secret Power of Willpower

Willpower is described in the research literature as self-discipline, self-control, or executive functioning. It refers to the ability to work towards a specific goal in spite of momentary alternatives that may seem more attractive. Self-discipline is more important than IQ in determining students’ final grades . In fact, being goal directed is one of  the best predictors of major life success.

Setting goals and remaining focused long enough to achieve those goals is important for career success.  Surprisingly, self-discipline shapes romantic relationships as well. A study revealed  that people with low levels of self-control were more likely to select mates with high levels of self-control. It seems as if they are using relationships to compensate for limited self-control. Yet this type of romantic pairing puts extreme pressure and stress on the relationship. This is type of imbalance occurs in most codependent relationships. This is where one person assumes responsibility for the wellbeing of the other. These relationships generate high amounts of resentment and conflict. Over time, they weaken the functioning of both individuals as well as the relationship.

We can see that self-discipline is not an insignificant part of our lives. It influences our career, relationships, and health outcomes. Our ability to set and achieve our goals ultimately shapes our success and happiness in life.  Now that we understand why willpower is important, let’s begin to describe what it is. More importantly, how we can increase it in our lives?

The Biology of Willpower

Research suggests that there is a strong biological component to will power. Specifically, willpower seems to be correlated with glucose levels in our bodies. When our glucose levels drop below the optimal range, our willpower weakens.

Glucose is the energy source that drives our willpower. Like other sources of energy, our supply of willpower is limited. We have our greatest amount of this energy in the morning which depletes as we go through the day. Every exercise of self-discipline, whether big or small, decreases the amount of energy available for the remaining activities.

In a laboratory experiment , researchers found that self-control activities reduced blood glucose levels. Researchers instructed participants to focus attention, regulate emotions, or suppress a thought.  Although we may not think of these activities as hard work, they do require some level of self-control. Therefor they lower our energy reserves. This explains why you may feel tired after you’ve been concentrating.  Or why you may desire a sugary snack after exercising restraint in a difficult conversation. In each of these situations, you are drawing upon your energy reserves.

In the same laboratory study, people who exercised self-control in the first phase of the research performed poorly in the second self-control task. Much like a withdrawal from your bank account, exercising self-control reduces your remaining balance. Each day is filled with many tasks requiring self-control. Thus, your ability to remain focused and disciplined on your goals decreases as you move through the day.

It’s no wonder you are unable to work out at the end of the day or that it takes you twice as long to read that report. There’s a reason why you blow up at your kids and spouse when you come home from work.  You have depleted your self-discipline reserves. You literally do not have the energy to follow through on your goals.

Apply These 4 Techniques to Improve Your Willpower

Lack of follow through on your goals doesn’t mean that you’re hopelessly lazy. It also doesn’t mean that you’re really not invested in accomplishing your goal. Once you understand the science of willpower, you can better manage your energy reserves, increase your self-discipline, and improve your goal attainment.

  1. Increase Your Monitoring.

Research reveals that increasing our levels of monitoring increases our success in self control. In a study college students were asked to perform one of three monitoring tasks: watch their posture, check their emotions, or track their food intake. Regardless of the tasks, the act of monitoring improved their ability to do another unrelated self-control task. All three monitoring groups performed better than the students without any monitoring activity. Thus, the act of monitoring itself seems to strengthen your self-discipline muscle.

Pick a goal and start monitoring your behavior related to that goal. Monitoring your behavior will improve your success rate. But the even better news is that it will also improve your success at all your other goals! You are actually increasing your capacity for self-discipline through any type of goal monitoring. As you strengthen this muscle, it will be able to work better for you in all areas of your life.

  1. Rest.

Taking a short 10-minute break is an excellent way to increase your energy reserves. This improves your capacity for self-discipline. We know that any type of self-control activity depletes your glucose energy reserves. Yet, a research study demonstrated that taking a 10-minute rest period restored the participants’ energy reserves to optimal levels. Another study  showed similar results when participants performing a brief relaxation activity.

We can restore our capacity for self-control to optimal levels by managing our time after we have exercised self-discipline. Taking short breaks or practicing a relaxation activity are credits that we deposit into our energy bank account. They restore our energy after we’ve exercised self-control. Thus, they increase our capacity for self-discipline in the future.

This is why I encourage my clients to take 10-minute breaks during every hour of focused activity at work. It takes lots of energy to concentrate and a brief break will increase your ability to sustain concentration. A short break makes you both more productive and less tired at the end of the day.

  1. Increase Your Pleasure.

Another way to make a deposit in your self-discipline reserves is to generate positive emotions. Positive emotions increase your energy levels and improve your capacity for self-control.

In a study researchers found that participants who experienced positive emotions improved their capacity for self-control. Participants were asked to perform some task of self-control. They were then assigned to one of four groups: positive mood, negative mood, neutral mood, or rest. Participants in the positive mood group watched a comedy video or received a surprise gift. Those in the negative mood group were given an activity to induce sadness. All groups should experience a depletion of self-control because they’ve performed a task requiring self-control. Yet, the positive mood group were as successful in the second task as the control group that had not completed the first task. The positive mood group was also more successful in the second self-control tasks than any of the other groups. This suggests that positive emotions actually increase and restore our self-discipline energy levels.

Use this knowledge to your advantage. Make sure that every day contains activities that make you feel good. Watch that funny you tube video. Read some pages of your favorite book. Chat with your favorite girlfriend on the phone. Too many times we deny ourselves these simple pleasures in life because we are just “too busy.” Yet these activities increase our productivity and improve our ability to meet our goals. The more we demand from ourselves, the more we need to make sure our days are filled with activities that generate positive emotions.

  1. Grab a Drink.

No not a glass of wine; grab an energy drink. We’ve learned that self-discipline has a biological component: glucose levels. Alcohol decreases glucose throughout the brain and body. No wonder it’s associated with such poor judgment and the inability to exercise self-control. Yet, there are many energy drinks that can restore our glucose levels. In a research study, participants who consumed a glucose drink between two self-control tasks showed no weakening of self-control in the second task. It seems that this glucose drink eliminated the usual impairment that occurs after exercising self-control. So the next time you exercised self-control, reward yourself with an energy drink to keep your momentum of success going.

Willpower is Easy if You Do It Smart

You do not have to remain complacent with your current level of will power. Like the muscles in your body, your self-discipline muscle can be exercised in a way that strengthens your life. Practicing the techniques described above will improve your success at setting and achieving your goals. You will also reap the financial, emotional, health, and relationship rewards that come with improved self-discipline.

You owe it to yourself to start today. Please let me know if you’d like my support in your efforts to set and accomplish goals, increase your self-discipline, and improve your life. You can email me at [email protected] or call (505)66-FOCUS. Wishing you success in using self-discipline to create your life of bliss!

 

How Balanced is Your Life Portfolio: 3 Steps to Life Balance

life balance

“My point is, life is about balance. The good and the bad. The highs and the lows. The pina and the colada.”
― Ellen DeGeneres

Many of us are aware of the importance of creating a balanced financial portfolio, but do we know how to create a balanced life?

Having an out of balance lifestyle leads to poor health, career burnout, chronic stress and depression. In a recent study , researchers found that obese individuals reported significantly lower life balance scores and much more stress. It’s likely that a chronically imbalanced lifestyle leads to obesity and other health concerns. Researchers have documented the emergence of a new personality type that emerges from increased the stress and burnout created by an imbalanced lifestyle. A type D person is distressed and often exhibits certain personality traits including negativity, pessimism, depression, anxiety, and loneliness, and a decreased ability to relax and enjoy leisure time.

You can avoid these negative outcomes and achieve a more balanced life by concentrating on building a balanced life portfolio. A solid financial investment fund is managed carefully to provide a diversity of investment vehicles that provide the greatest return while limiting losses. Balancing investments against each other ensures that when some investments fall others will rise to cover the losses. We can use this portfolio metaphor to help us achieve balance in our lives as well.  Below I identify three ways in which you can use your financial wisdom to help you achieve more balance in your life. 

Diversification is the key to life balance and security.

You can organize your life portfolio into seven different types of investments:

  • physical environment (home)
  • career,
  • relationships
  • spiritual life
  • physical health & self-care
  • personal growth & development (intellectual, emotional, and creative growth)
  • recreation & fun.

Think of the time, attention, and money you have as resources that you can invest in each of these seven areas. Make choices to invest your time and energy in alignment with your values and priorities. Rather than viewing these as individual choices, we can consider them as a part of our life portfolio.

For example, you may place a high priority on your career and make time and energy choices accordingly. But what if something happens that makes pursuing your career no longer possible or desirable? What else are you investing in that will balance that loss so that you are still living a fulfilled and happy life?

Diversification does not need you to place equal investments in each of the seven areas of your life. But it does need you to pay attention to each and investing in your goals for this area of your life. Do you see investments in each area in your calendar and checkbook? How we spend our time and money reflects our values and priorities. If one or more of these seven core life areas do not appear in your monthly schedule and budget, your life is likely out of balance.

Life balance is the reflection of your choices.

You are the one who decides where to invest your resources. The concept of investing your time highlights the centrality of choice. We always have a choice in how we spend our resources, not matter how limited those resources may be.

Too many times we complain about our lives being out of balance as if we are not the ones directing the show. Imbalance is a product of abdicating our power of choice to others. It is also the result of refusing to make choices based on our priorities.

In this brief video , I explain how we give our power to choose away when fail to distinguish “should” from “must”. “Should” focuses on what others want from/for us. Yet, “must” is driven by our life purpose and core values. Identifying our “must list” pulls us forward, creating energy, productivity and joy in our lives.

Thus, we need to gain clarity on our purpose and core values to build a life of balance. If you are not yet clear on these two items, this is the first step to your balanced life. You can sign up for a free life planning toolkit  to help you specify your life purpose. You can also take a free on-line survey  to help you identify your core values. The survey will also show whether your core values are out of balance in your life.

Life balance requires regular assessment.

You must check the performance of your investments at regular intervals. The concept of investment also reminds us to make and test these choices in light of future goals. You are not “spending time” doing an activity, you are “making an investment”. Like financial investments, we can expect that the “return” on the investment increases.

What are your goals for your relationships? What are your willing to invest in those relationships to achieve that goal? How will you know if you have achieved or are on target to achieve your goal? As you can see, life balance requires that we have clear and measurable goals in every area of our life. This is what enables us to assess whether we are on target or need to revise our investment strategy.

Moreover, regular assessment allows us to keep our life portfolio balanced over time. The only constant in life is change. We start new relationships, end previous careers, get new interests, develop different health needs. Each of these life events produce change in other areas of our lives.

Every financial broker will tell you that diversification is not a one-time action. Some investments will outperform others. Thus, the most balanced financial portfolio will become out of balance without readjustment. This is why you need to reallocate your acquired resources to reflect your goals.

Reallocation is needed in our lives as well. The changes we experience in our lives require reassessment and reallocation of our time and money. When we do this based on a concrete assessment of our goals and progress, we make sure that we are continually creating a life of balance.

Put your life in balance.

Balance isn’t just something you do. It is a never-ending, and limitless, act of being. By practicing the tools described in this article, you are inviting this state of being into your life. Once you have mastered the concepts and applied the strategy of choosing to focus on what matters most to you, the opportunities, joy and passion your life will expand to fill the horizons of what you can dream. I challenge you to fully explore the possibilities of this evolution of self.

Think of how you currently or are planning to allot your available investment of time and energy. Which of the seven areas (environment, career, relationships, spiritual life, health, personal growth, recreation) are strongly supported in your investment fund?  Write down your top three goals in each of the seven areas. Have you allotted enough time and energy to meet all three values and priorities consistently? Which areas are “underfunded?

Make a commitment today to reallocate your life portfolio to create more balance. Do not allow your precious resources to be “wasted” or spent based on other people’s values and priorities. Now that you are clear on you priorities in each of your life areas, commit to funding your goals.  You have enough time for everything that matters most; it’s up to you to decide what matters most.

Congratulations! You are well on your way to creating the energy, time and balance you need to live the life of your dreams! If you’d like more support in balancing your life portfolio, feel free to contact me or post your questions and challenges below.

 

Using the Power of Focus to Create a Life You Love

Focus on your dreams

Joy is the celebratory emotion that comes from achieving your goals.

Most women I meet are stressed as they struggle to meet the demands placed on them by modern life. Performing in the workplace, caring for children, partners, elderly parents and outside relationships means that most women have very little time and energy to devote to nurturing their own physical and psychological health. As a result of this stress, many women are in strained relationships. Eventually, the stress interferes with their ability to perform at their peak levels at work.

It’s not that the modern woman doesn’t care about healthy living, quality relationships, or a successful career. Either she doesn’t know how to achieve these life goals or she doesn’t believe that she have the time to do so. Sound familiar?

Because I have witnessed so many women caught up in this cycle, I was motivated to write my forthcoming book: Your Life as a Celebration. I believe that each of us can structure our life as a celebration. A celebration of our unique talents and contributions. A celebration of the people and causes that are important to us. A celebration of our strength, vitality, and wisdom. In every way, your life can be a joyous celebration of you!

The Power of FOCUS

Your Life as a Celebration presents a simple and effective formula to achieve your life goals and creating the life you love. This book introduces the five phases of focus. It explains how this easy-to-use technique can make your success automatic. With a small investment of time, you can put in place this proven strategy and achieve visible progress in just three weeks.

Regardless of whether your initial goal is to lose weight, improve your relationship with your spouse, or get a promotion at work. By applying the strategy in this book, you can take the steps needed to reach your goal.

The 5 phases of FOCUS system uses the three pillars of personal development: thoughts, habits, and planning. I explain the scientific research unpinning each of these principles. I also show how the focus system optimizes this principle. Each pillar plays a critical role in creating permanent life transformation.

As a result of the pillars of personal development, the five phases of focus system will enable you to:

*          develop a road map to chart the steps towards reaching to your goal

*          establish new habits that promote your success

*          create a system of accountability that keeps you motivated and on your path to success

*          identify strategies to overcome obstacles that threaten to block your progress.

As you continue implementing the system, you will achieve more and even bigger life goals. Hence, your immediate success will fill you with confidence that promotes your future success. Before you know it, you will have a lifestyle in which you naturally set, achieve, and exceed your goals. This new lifestyle will fuel you with energy, power, and joy.

Personalized FOCUS

The FOCUS system is uniquely personalized and tailored to you. Your goals are your goals and the path to achieving them should reflect you. There are as many distinctive goals as there are fingerprints and the pathways to accomplishing them are equally varied. The FOCUS system guides you through a series of questions based on scientific research and spiritual principles about personal development. The way that you answer those questions and incorporate these principles into your life are correct for you.

Because we are often taught that there is a “normal” way of being, if we we believe that it is “wrong” to do things differently than those around us. While all people learn the “value” of conformity, women are particularly pressured to confine ourselves into the narrowly-defined boxes of our society. In my coaching practice and in this book, I challenge women to identify and live out their unique and authentic life purpose.

I developed the FOCUS system to help women identify and design a personalized plan for life success.

Terms like “cultivating”, “designing”, and “nurturing” reflect my understanding that your personal development is a creative, organic process directed by you to craft your distinctive vision. Each of the chapters of Your Life as a Celebration covers a different aspect of your life . The book guides you in applying the FOCUS method to your health, career, relationships, and purpose .

In addition to the five phases of focus, Your Life as a Celebration presents a series of powerful practices to supercharge your life transformation. These powerful practices are grounded in empirical research on human behavior. They are also personalized to fit your unique goals, personality, and life circumstances. These powerful practices help you to create a life you love. They celebrate your life’s purpose, highlight your unique talents and gifts, love your body to health and wellness, and strengthen your existing relationships.

FOCUS on Your Dreams

You can create a life that you love! Sign up today for a free, limited advance copy of my book. By using the FOCUS strategy, you can replace the stress and imbalance of your life with joy, peace, and balance. You can develop personalized success rituals that put the process of accomplishing your goals on autopilot.

As a result of using this system, you will achieve more of your core life goals. You will be proud of who you are and the life you’ve created for yourself. This accomplishment will fill you with feelings of pride and joy. You can create your flow: a balanced harmony of value driven activities that provide you with increasing amounts of energy and advance your life purpose.

Get your copy of Your Life as a Celebration and begin creating the life of your dreams today. Harness your potential. Manifest your dreams. Create life filled with meaning, purpose, and joy. Start here. Start today.

Wishing you the best in your personalized success. If there’s any way I can support you in creating the life you dream of, please let me know. You are a vessel for a dream. Shine!

 

 

How the Idea of Gifted Blocks Your Success

Replace ideas of gifted with growth mindset

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”
– John Wooden, Basketball

We like to think of some people as particularly gifted or talented in some areas. We think they they are born with innate abilities that make them masters in specific arenas. Yet, the mythology of giftedness is damaging to us as individuals and as a society.

First, the ideology of giftedness is problematic because it is empirically untrue. Second, the belief in giftedness perpetuates social inequality. Third, the myth of giftedness encourages people to avoid the pursuit of their dreams. In this article, I discuss how you can avoid the pitfalls of the gifted myth. You do this by using a growth mindset to fully develop your talents and achieve mastery in your chosen field.

Gifted is a myth

Research has shown that our ideas about innate giftedness does not explain outstanding performers. They argue that we should not think about the distinction between mastery and proficient as the product of innate talent. Rather mastery, and what we call talent, is the product of consistent practice.

K. Anders Ericson’s research produced the 10,000 hours rule of thumb. He observed that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve mastery in any area.  That’s approximately 3 hours of practice a day for 10 years. Thus, the difference between the individuals at the top of their fields and the amateurs is many, many, MANY hours of practice.

In a study of young musicians, Ericson and his colleagues asked teachers to rank the students according to their “talent”. The teachers were asked to identify those individuals who were the most talented. These were musicians that the teachers believed to have the most promise for international music careers. Surprisingly, the teacher’s evaluation of the student’s talent was actually a reflection of the students’ hours of practice. Those students who were judged as most likely to have outstanding international music careers practiced on average for about 10,000 hours. Those identified as “good” by their instructors had practiced for approximately 8,000 hours. Those considered the least accomplished practiced for approximately 5,000 hours.

Thus, what we are labeling as evidence of “talent” is the reflection of differential amounts on practice.

Deliberate practice determines your level of success

Ericson asserts that 50 hours of training is enough to allow you to become competent. This average is applicable for any skill with a moderate level of difficulty. These fifty hours of training allow your body and mind to learn how to make the appropriate response automatic.

Yet, those individuals achieve the mastery level commit to never stop learning. This is what enables them to dominate their field. The masters work with coaches who give them the feedback needed to constantly improve their performance. In the video below, legendary basketball player Michael Jordan discusses the importance of practicing with a coach. He identifies consistent practice and direction from his coach as responsible for taking his game to master level.

Belief in gifted promotes social inequality

The ideology of innate levels of giftedness supports the practice of tracking in our schools. This logic suggests that students will perform at the best level for them when grouped according to ability.

Research shows that tracking doesn’t improve student learning. But tracking does expand social and economic inequalities. Rather than an assessment of ability, the notion of giftedness is often a reflection of social privilege. Those individuals from more privileged families (e.g. higher SES, white) are more likely to be evaluated as gifted and placed the more advanced educational tracks. This is a pervasive pattern that has been observed in a variety of schools and states across the country.

We deny opportunities for learning and success to many students by reserving the “enriched” curriculum for those identified as gifted. Yet, schools that are effectively “detracked” show high achievement across all groups of students. Countries such as Finland that do not practice tracking students according to ability demonstrate the highest overall scores of educational achievement.  They also show the smallest range of achievement gap amongst its students. Rather than seeing intelligence and ability as a fixed entity, we now know that our capacity changes with our environment.

Fixed vs. growth mindset

In her groundbreaking book, Mindest: The new psychology of success, Carol Dweck shows that perceiving our intelligence, talent, and abilities as something that can grow improves our performance and happiness. This growth mindset suggests that we can expand our ability in any area. But the fixed mindset implies that our level of ability can not be changed by our efforts.

Dweck’s research shows that you truly are what you believe about yourself. Individuals with a fixed mindset experience lots of stress from trying to prove their ability over and over again. They are more likely to give up or not try when things are challenging. Yet, individuals with a growth mindset experience challenges as learning opportunities. As a result of this growth mindset, they are likely to improve from their efforts.

Thinking of yourself and others as possessing an unknown and growing capacity for greatness inspires actions that produce such greatness.  It provides opportunities to all. It focuses our attention on learning and growth rather than proving our worth. These are just a few of the many benefits we receive from discarding our erroneous ideas about giftedness.

Ideology of gifted prevents people from following their dreams

The belief in giftedness encourages some people to play small and avoid pursuing their dreams. They believe that if a particular skill doesn’t come easily for you, then it’s not likely your area of success. This mode of thinking encourages us to give up on our dreams. We give up because we haven’t already demonstrated our “potential” for success.

Successful people without any early visible signs of success

Yet, there are many examples of successful people who looked like they had no potential for such success earlier in their lives. James Earl Jones has earned three Emmy awards. He is also the iconic voice of Darth Vader (Star Wars) and Mufasa (Lion King). But James Earl Jones had a stuttering problem for years as a child. In fact, he practiced poetry, public speaking and acting to help correct his speech problem.

Author Jennifer Egan won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel A Visit From the Goon Squad. But she experienced public failures early in her writing career. In fact, she said her first novel was so bad that even her mother hated it. Rather than throwing in the towel and proclaiming she was not a good writer, Egan continued to learn and improve in her craft as a writer.

Before becoming the youngest self-made millionaire, Bill Gates was a college drop-out. He was also the co-owner of a failed business. Yet he did not interpret these occurrences as a sign that he could not be a successful entrepreneur. Rather, he allowed his passion for computer programming to continue to lead him. Eventually Gates built Microsoft, one of the world’s most successful technology companies.

What these people had in common was a belief that past failures did not prevent their future success. They demonstrated a growth mind-set.  They each continued learning and cultivating their interests, regardless of how others judged their likelihood of success.

Develop your capacity for success

Don’t fall into the trap of giving up on your dreams just because you weren’t a child prodigy. Don’t assume that just because you haven’t experienced a visible level of success, it is not in your future. Failure is not proof that you can’t be successful. Rather it is an opportunity to learn a key component of your future success.

Understanding that giftedness as a myth liberates us. It frees us individually and collectively to invest in ourselves and others. Rather than thinking about talent as a limited resource and directing our focus on identifying those with innate talent, we are now free to focus on interest and effort. If a person is interested in a particular skill or field of knowledge, they are more likely to invest the 10,000 hours of deliberate practice needed to excel in this area.

Success Step 1: Get the information you need

What topics, skills, questions, goals interest you? How are you pursuing them? Now there is no excuses for why you “just aren’t college material” or “don’t have the business sense to become an entrepreneur” or any other excuses that may have justified you not pursuing your goals. Whatever you are lacking now can be learned. You only need to identify your method of getting the information and commit to 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.

There are many course, books, programs, videos available to teach you the skills needed to become a master in your chosen area. In this information age you can easily identify resources to teach you almost anything you want to learn. Getting the information is only half the battle. The other part of the equation is logging in your 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.

Success Step #2: Get a coach to take you to master level

Follow the lead of those who have already achieved mastery in their respective areas. Get yourself an expert coach. An experienced coach can design an individualized training program for you and give you the feedback needed to improve your performance. This allows you to focus your full attention on carry out the program. There’s no need for you to try to be both the performer and the evaluator of your performance.

Making the same mistake over and over again will not get you closer to master status. Mastery requires adjusting your performance based on feedback. This feedback loop allows you to get closer and closer to your goal. Your coach provides you with the feedback necessary to recognize errors and correct them. The expert eyes if a coach are a critical component of your journey to mastery. This is how you work smarter, not harder.

Your Journey to Mastery

What’s the next step in your personal journey to mastery level? Have you identified your goal? Are you learning the skills needed for your craft? Are you putting in your 10,000 hours of deliberate practice on a regular basis? Do you receive personalized feedback on how to improve your performance from a coach?

If your answer to all the questions above is yes, then let me say “Congratulations!” You are well on your way to achieving master status and dominating your chosen field. No matter how far away it may feel, just remember that if you keep your focus you WILL achieve your goal. I am so proud of you and excited for what you will contribute to our world through your commitment to mastery.

If your answer to any of the previous questions is no, you now know the next step in your journey to mastery.  The fact that you have the interest and commitment means that you CAN achieve your goal. You still need to combine that with instruction and 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to realize your dream. I wish you success on your journey!

If there’s anything that I can do to support you on your journey to mastery, please do not hesitate to contact me. If you have suggestions for others on the journey, share them below.  Also, please share your success stories as a form of encouragement to others.  Wishing you a life full of purpose, meaning, and joy!

 

The Secret Confidence Killer

Increase your confidence with collaborative thinking

What you think about yourself is much more important than what others think about you.

You have a unique set of talents and a distinctive perspective that is unlike any other. Developing your talents and perspective are the keys to your financial freedom and happiness. Yet, you may be undermining your talent, freedom, and happiness with comparison thinking.

Making comparisons is useful when it comes to shopping for cars or shoes. But, it’s deadly for our self confidence and quality of life when we compare ourselves to others. Comparison thinking has always been with us, but the age of social media seems to have kicked it into high gear. Now it seems as if we can follow people’s life moment by moment on FaceBook and Twitter. This tempts us to compare our daily existence with those we see on social media. Are our children as cute? Do we look as good as she does in her selfie? Is our relationship as happy as theirs? Are our cars/homes/vacations as glamorous as theirs?

I once heard an quote “don’t compare your real life to someone’s Facebook life.” There is both humor and truth in this insightful quote. We must remember that Facebook is a constructed image of snapshots of people’s lives. This is equal to the highlights reel of a sports game. Comparing ourselves to anyone else’s life, virtual or real world, is a dangerous error that undermines our success and well being.

 

Confidence: the Pathway to Success and Happiness

Confidence is defined  as “a feeling or belief that someone or something is good or has the ability to succeed at something.”  In the psychological literature, confidence is referred to as self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the sense that you have the ability to accomplish a task and make good things happen. This feeling of confidence, or self-efficacy, is critical to many our short and long-term success and happiness.

Comparative thinking is destructive because it undermines our confidence in our abilities and perspective. It’s your uniqueness, not your similarity, that is the keys to your freedom and happiness. But, it’s hard to trust in our uniqueness with so much emphasis on being like the others that we see around us.

Psychological research shows that confidence, or self-efficacy, is associated with increased level of success and personal well being.  Self-efficacy produces positive mental health, high levels of educational achievement, improved physical health, and increased earnings.  There are many reasons why confidence is connected to these various forms of success.

  1. People with higher levels of self-confidence are more likely to try new things.

    Confident people view new activities as tasks that are to be mastered rather than tasks that avoided. They are willing to begin activities with which they have little experience because they believe they can learn new things.

  2. People with higher levels of self-confidence stay engaged in activities longer.

    Since confident people believe in their ability to learn new things, they are more likely to see challenges and setbacks as learning opportunities than failures. Thus, they remain engaged in getting better at the tasks even when it is difficult. This ability to begin and sustain engagement in difficult tasks, increases their level of mastery and their confidence that they can achieve.

  3. People with high-levels of self-confidence perceive themselves as having more control over their lives.

    Thus if there’s something that they find displeasing in their life, they focus on how they can improve the situation. Whereas less confident people tend to see life as happening to them rather than being shaped by them. Thus, they tend to focus on what is negative about their life rather than how to change it. This type of thinking is associated with increased levels of stress and depression.

 

Comparison Thinking Undermines Confidence

You may think of confidence as something you have or don’t have. But research suggests that confidence can be developed by particular ways of thinking and behaving.

A large part of communicating confidence is through nonverbal behavior. We broadcast our levels of confidence to others constantly without knowing it. More recently, scholars and practitioners have been telling us the benefits of “fake it till you make it”. We are instructed to learn and use the nonverbal behavior associated with confidence until it becomes a natural part of our identity.

I definitely agree with the validity of this behavior your way to success approach. Yet, I’d like to draw your attention to how your thinking influences our levels of confidence. Comparative thinking is destructive because it undermines our confidence. Here are two ways that making comparisons undermines your levels of self confidence.

  1. Comparing yourself to someone you admire creates self doubt, feelings of unworthiness, and anxiety.

    You may see the success that the person you admire is experiencing and think that you have to be “just like them” to achieve similar results. Since it’s clear you are not like them, you may stop trying before you actually begin. Or you may ignore your distinctiveness and try to immediate the other person in the hopes of experiencing their successful outcome. You will always be a second rate someone else, but you can be a first class version of yourself.  Living with courage means embracing your unique gifts and sharing them with others.

  1. Comparing yourself to someone you don’t like creates a false sense of superiority and disdain.

    Even comparisons in which we see ourselves “on top” undermine our confidence and success. Rather than focusing on your continued growth and development, this kind of comparison leads you to a path of atrophy. You lose the fire because you think that you’ve already won. Yet the race is not run against other people; it is always within yourself. This is why I loved being a cross-country runner. I realized from a young age that my race is a race of one. I am focused solely on betting my personal best from last time. Focusing on others around you, distracts your focus from accomplishing your personal best. This leads to overconfidence where your confidence exceeds your ability and effort. Don’t allow comparisons to draw you into this trap.

Build Confidence: Eradicate Comparison Thinking

The key to building your confidence and creating the success you desire is to eradicate comparison thinking of all forms and at all time. In comparing of yourself with people you’re never comparing apples to apples. Just because she is a woman, or a singer, or a mother doesn’t mean that she is like you. You are so much more than those titles. You perform the same activity or where the same dress, but the way you do will be totally different. There are people who will be moved only by your voice; by your perspective; by your vision. You owe it to them and to yourself to be authentically you.

Instead of comparison, think collaboratively. The next time you see someone and and tempted to think of yourself as in competition with this person, ask yourself “How can I use my unique gifts to complement this person?” This perspective will allow you to celebrate the success of others and nurture your own.

Confident women collaborate, they don’t compete. Hold yourself up to your own independent standards and encourage others to do so as well. Then you can have success without envy, confidence without arrogance, and pride without self-centeredness.

Confidence Building Affirmation

Where are you comparing yourself to others? Make a commitment to live collaboratively rather than competitively. If you would like support and a reminder to live without comparison, consider writing out the affirmation below.  Post it in places where you will see it daily.

“I can now see the destructive pattern that’s produced in my life by making comparisons. I refuse to do that to myself and my dreams. I am not them, but that does not mean that I can’t have the desires of my heart. Being fully myself can bring me all the success I desire….Being fully myself will bring me all the success I desire….Being fully myself will bring me all the success I desire.”

Please share below your suggestions about how to build your confidence and live a life without comparisons. We all have a gift to share with the world. Help others live into their gift, as you nurture and share your own!

 

 

 

Saying No: the secret to creating balance in your life and work

Saying No to create life balance

“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”-Warren Buffet

People who are successful in life and their careers have mastered the skill of saying no. They don’t say no to everything. Instead, they say no to people, projects, and activities that are in not line with their core values and life purpose. In this article I share how this simple word can help you create balance in your life and work. I also share two easy techniques to help you develop the habit of saying no to everything that is not in line with your core values and purpose.

Early in my career as a college professor, I was overwhelmed with service obligations. I was new on campus and everyone wanted to take advantage of my new energy and areas of expertise. They frequently invited me to participate in their projects, classes, and committees. Additionally, the fact that I was also one of a handful of black faculty on campus meant that I was the first person to come to mind for any request related to diversity.

Service is my way of life. I am always looking for ways that I can add value to others through my unique gifts and talents. I was also eager to get to know and work collaboratively with my new students, colleagues, and administrators. But the expansiveness of my service and teaching obligations made it difficult for me to find time for my research, my family, and my other life priorities.

I quickly learned that I needed to perfect the art of saying no if I was going to be able to thrive in this career and in all the other areas of my life.

Developing the habit of saying no to most request was difficult for me and is challenging for many of the women I work with. Many of us pride ourselves on being helpful to others. We are also very concerned about hurting others feelings or disappointing them. However, once you fully understand the value of saying no, it becomes clear that this is a loving and compassionate act for you and others.

 

How Saying No Creates Life Balance and Success

Saying no creates space for us to do activities we love

By saying no to most request, we protect our time and energy.  This enables us to  say “yes” to things in line with our core values and life purpose.

We all have a finite amount of time and energy. Spending time on a non-priority project provides less time for our high priority projects. Many of us are overwhelmed because we are doing too many activities. When something that we really want to do comes along, we add it to the list because it’s too great to pass up. But adding to a crammed schedule means that we will not have the focus and energy to do our best in this activity. We may not even enjoy it as much because we’re exhausted from all the other activities jammed into the day.

Saying no helps us to avoid disappointing others with less than our best

Often times we don’t want to say no because we don’t want to disappoint the person making the request. Just imagine how disappointed they will be when you don’t complete the job. What about when you don’t do your best work because it’s not high on your internal priorities?

People make requests of us because they value our talents and competencies. They expect us to bring our best game to the requested project. That’s difficult to do when it’s not something that we value. This is what often leads to “forgetting” to do an activity or missing a deadline on a project. It may seem as if we are disorganized or too busy. But in fact, we are unwilling to prioritize that activity given our limited resources. If we communicated this to the person at the time of the request, they could have found someone else who could focus on the activity. But, now they are doubly angry. First, because their activity didn’t go off as envisioned. Second, because they believe that you are the reason that it didn’t.

It is disingenuous to accept a project that is not in line with our purpose and values because we can not do our best work. It’s better to say “no” upfront. We will experience a smaller level of disappointment compared to the disappointment later in the process when we haven’t performed our best.

Saying no helps us not be resentful of others

Resentment occurs when we feel out of control. Saying no helps us to regain control of our life choices. This prevents our growing resentment of others for the choices we make.

Accepting projects based on other people’s values and priorities creates resentment. We act as if they “made” us do something. This resentment is compounded if we think that they are not grateful for our “sacrifice”.

When you do things because they are in line with your purpose and values, you’re not disturbed by the outcome.

If the outcome is different than you expected, or if others don’t appreciate it, you still believe it’s valuable. It’s always nice to have your work valued and appreciated. But when you work on things that you value, it is already valued and appreciated!

Saying no helps us to do our best work

We do our best work when we are focusing on projects and activities in line with our core values and life purpose. This is how we get in the flow. In flow, we are fully engrossed in a activity that we find intrinsically meaningful. As such, we are willing to go the extra mile to achieve optimal results.

Also, we gain energy when we work on activities in line with our purpose. This energy enables us to remain engaged in action. It also provides us with creative insight that isn’t available to people with more peripheral interest.

Have you found that when others tire and shut down, you can sustain your engagement?  Are you able to see possibilities and opportunities more clearly than others? This resilience and problem solving ability comes from your sincere passion and curiosity. It is easy to do your best at things in line with your purpose. Your passion gives you the curiosity, insight, and motivation needed to excel.

Reflecting upon how you feel after an activity is an indicator of its relationship to your purpose and values. If you feel physically tired but emotionally energized, you are likely doing something in line with your purpose. If you feel drained and depleted, you’re probably not working within your purpose.

While the work may not be easy; it is easy to excel at activities in line with your purpose.

You owe it to yourself, and others, to only accept projects that bring out your best. This is where you can make your greatest contribution.

Strategies to Help You Create Life Balance and Success by Saying No

You understand why it’s critical to say no on a regular basis.  Now let’s consider how you are going to build that habit into your life. Having “yes” as our default position has become a habit for many of us. That bad habit is not going to change without intentional intervention.

I’ve listed two proven strategies to help you address your habitual yes. These techniques will shift your default response from “yes ” to “no to anything that is not in line with my purpose and core values”.

  1. Take a “yes” fast.

Fasting means to refrain from food or activities for a specific period of time. The purpose of the fast is break existing habits. It is also intended to promote reflection and introspection.

Taking a yes fast means that you will say “no” to all requests of you for a specific period of time. That period may be a month or a year. I suggest at least a month so that you can say “no” long enough for it to become your new default. It will also give you enough time to observe the consequences of saying no. This will help you become more comfortable with the new habit.

At first saying no may feel very uncomfortable and others may exert even more pressure on you. This is especially true if you’ve developed a habit for saying yes. But, staying the course will allow you to observe that others’ can adjust and the world will go on. Although you may believe (or people may suggest to you) that you are the only one who can do this activity.

Saying no allows you to see that other people really can step up and do the activity. Or if the activity doesn’t occur, perhaps that’s fine as well. Perhaps that was not the best way to meet the need/goal anyway.

This will be a scary experience in the beginning.

Developing a habit of saying no requires both faith and courage.

Faith to believe that you really are meant to do those things in line with your life purpose and core values. Courage to protect the space to do that. Your faith and courage will reward you with increased time and energy. This reclaimed time and energy can be invested developing yourself and your purpose.

If the thought of saying no to absolutely everything is too scary for you, set a narrow parameter. Your parameter should require you to say no to 90% of new requests but allows a small fraction to still get a yes.

After my early years of teaching, I realized I needed to change from my default yes. But, I felt unprepared to go 100% cold turkey no. After discussing this with my trusted friends and mentors, I decided to say no for an entire year to any request that would take more than two hours of my time. The two-hour time limit included the time to prepare and participate in the activity. This was a very difficult thing for me to do. I called my closest friends on a weekly basis with all the reasons why I should make exceptions to my rule. Thankfully, I have great friends who continued to remind me of my commitment and why it was important.

With the help of my support team, I was able to stay the course. By the end of the year, my default was no longer “yes”. I was able to experience the value added to my life of saying no to the many “good, but not purpose-driven” requests made of my time.

  1. Establish a “No Committee”

Another option to help you move from a default of yes is to establish a No Committee. The No Committee takes the stress away from you of deciding whether to say no.

You select close friends and family members that know you, your work, and your life well. You then explain to them your intention of saying no to non-purpose driven activities. Clearly articulate to the No Committee your life purpose and core values. This will become their guide for all their decisions.  Inform them that you commit to abiding by the decisions of the committee.

Because the committee is made up of people who love you (but are not you) they can evaluate the request with emotional distance and clarity. They agree to compare the request to your established priorities and core values. Then make their decision based whether the request is line with your purpose.

The No Committee must have an odd number so that there is never a tie. The committee must agree to respond with a quick turn-around to any request that you pass along to them. I’ve served on a No Committee for years. I have found it a useful and effective way to support my loved ones in achieving more balance in life and work.

Your Balanced Life

Your balanced life can begin today! It requires you to prioritize activities related to your purpose and core values. Say no to everything else! You’ll be amazed at how you can increase your impact on the world and your own happiness. If you’d like other resources to help you better manage your time and balance your energy, check out my YouTube videos on time management and emotion management.

Share you thoughts on effective strategies to create balance in your life. Let’s keep the wisdom flowing! Comment below.

Failing to First Place: How failure can promote your success

Failure is a key to success

Unlock your key to success

Failure is something that invokes fear in us and that we often seek to avoid. However, if properly embraced failure can catapult us to our success. In the video below we see Heather Dorniden (now Heather Kampf) fall on her face in her second lap of the Women’s 600 meter run. Yet instead of being immobilized by her failure, Heather pushed herself up off the ground, focused on rebuilding her momentum, and eventually finished in first place! Heather’s effective response to failure catapulted her into winning the race and winning the hearts of millions of people around the world who learned of her success through the youtube video. In an interview with Brent Yarina of BTN.com, Heather offers us insights about how we can use our big and small  failures to promote ourselves to first place as well.

The Gifts of Failure

Failure teaches us things we have not previously understood about ourselves and our world.

Failure reveals what is missing or incomplete in our understanding . Approaching our failure like a scientist or engineer will help us to learn key components to our success from failure. This requires asking ourselves important questions and answering honestly. “Why didn’t we get the result we were expecting?” “How do we need to adjust our understanding or behavior to get better success?” Even when we have a long history of being successful in an area, failure can show us what we need to learn in order to reach a new level of success. As Heather Dorniden reflects on her epic fall, she states that she “didn’t account for enough space for my long stride, because I felt my heel get clipped once, and then on the second time I knew I was going down”. Even experienced and successful runners still have more to learn about themselves and their craft that will improve their performance. Failure can be an excellent teacher.

Failure gives us an opportunity to reconnect with our original vision.

Failure can help us get clarity on our vision.

Get clarity on your vision.

How do we get the motivation to get up and keep going after we’ve experienced an epic failure? Dorniden recounts that “the positive vision of what I was hoping to accomplish in that race was stronger than the adversity I faced”. If we use the experience of failure to ask ourselves what we wanted to achieve and why it was important to us anyway, we can reconnect with our original vision in a way that motivates us to success. Failure does not mean that our goal was unworthy or that we are incapable of achieving it. Failure is teaching us critical steps to accomplishing our goal, but we must remain engaged in the process to learn. By reminding ourselves of the value of our goal, we affirm for ourselves that it was and still is worthy of our effort. The clarity of this vision is what enables us to push ourselves up and keep running.

Failure helps us to focus our energy on the process, not the outcome.

Failure helps us focus on the skills we need to succeed.

Focus on the skills you need to succeed.

When we are learning from failure, we realize that our goal is worthy but that we don’t yet have all the tools necessary to accomplish that goal. Failure focuses us on identifying and developing those mission critical tools that will enable us to achieve our goals. There is social science research that suggest that focusing on the process, rather than the outcome, is better able to produce successful results. This makes sense because when we are too focused on the outcome, we can become immobilized by fearful thoughts that we are never going to make it. However, when we focus on doing what is immediately in front of us well and better, we build up the talent and momentum to reach our goal . As Heather remembers:

“all I really thought was I need to keep running, because if I finish I’ll at least earn one point. As I started running, I began to gain on one girl, and then the rest of the pack didn’t seem that far away. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I caught them all?”  Then, on the final curve, I heard the in-house announcer say, “Watch out for Heather Dorniden!!” and I thought, “Yeah!! Watch out! I’m coming!” And from there, it was just this incredible surge of energy and an effortless press for the finish line.”

Failure reveals how strong and talented we really are.

Failure reveals our true strength.

Failure reveals our true strength.

There are few things that raise self-confidence as much as accomplishing something that you couldn’t do before. I love jigsaw puzzles and find them quite addictive. What makes them so pleasurable to me is how proud I am of myself when I successfully make a puzzle out of what used to be a table full of nonsensical pieces. Making sense out of what used to be nonsense to me reveals to myself how smart I really am. The things that cause you frustration and difficulty now will become your future trophies of your talent and strength.  Heather Dorniden reminds us that the most inspirational component of her epic win is what it reveals about her internal strength. She states, “I always tell people this race isn’t just about never giving up, it’s about discovering what you’re capable of when you are given the opportunity to rise above adversity.”

Keys to failing intelligently

Practice failing intelligently.

Practice failing intelligently.

So what distinguishes the failure that ruins lives from the failure that brings success? Simply speaking, it is your response to the failure that will determine the impact of that event on your life. Here are two ways you can ensure that you fail intelligently in a way that brings you to your ultimate success.

Accept the “gifts” of your failure.

What are the lessons embedded in your failure. What new skills, behaviors, understandings can you learn from this event? Why is failing or succeeding in this endeavor important to you?

Get up and finish.

Get up and keep going!

Get up and keep going!

This requires implementing a process where you develop and practice using the insights you’ve learned from your failure. As you methodically place one foot in front of another, you begin to see you increased distance from where you were and proximity to where you want to be. Steady activity based on the insights gained from your failure will lead you to success. Heather Dorniden shares:

“I would have never guessed that getting up and finishing that race would have made me a “YouTube sensation.” Not every fall I’ve had has been quite so epic, but I learned that it’s worth getting up every time. “

Imagine what success you can achieve if you get up and finish!

I’d love to hear your reactions to this inspirational story and moments in your own life when you have used your failure to promote you to success. Please share below.

What No One Tells You about Success

Have you ever considered what history has to do with your present level of success and the likelihood of future success? It’s more than the proverbial statement “those that don’t know their history are bound to repeat it.” Recent social science research reveals that the knowledge of history improves our resiliency and increases our success.

Resiliency is a pre-requisite for success

 

Knowledge of our history can enhance our resiliency and provide each of us with the resources to succeed.

Knowledge of our history can enhance our resiliency and provide each of us with the resources to succeed.

Current social science research reveals that resiliency is a significant predictor of future success. Resiliency refers to our capacity to bounce back from traumatic life events or situations. We know that resiliency reduces emotional stress, increases life satisfaction and increases likelihood of success. Whether measuring athletic accomplishments or academic achievement, research shows that resiliency promotes optimal performance. In all areas of life individuals’ who have more resiliency experience more success.

 

We can not control where we start in life. Life often presents us with substantial challenges and negative situations beyond our choosing. However, Dr. Joy DeGruy’s research documents that knowledge of family history increases resiliency and success for at-risk youth. In other words, the more history a young person knows, the greater likelihood of success in spite of the challenges of the social environment.

 

3 Ways history can increase resiliency and success

#1. Knowledge of history creates a system of personal accountability

History can create a sense of accountability that promotes our success.

History can create a sense of accountability that promotes our success.

We stand here today as the result of great efforts from others on our behalf. Some examples of the individual and collective work done on our behalf include: our family’s efforts to provide for us until we could provide for ourselves, unknown soldiers fighting for our political freedom, and social activists fighting for our social and economic opportunities. Whether they know us by name or not, we are beneficiaries of of these people’s work. This knowledge places responsibility upon us to behave in a manner that honors their investments in us. I can still remember everyday before going to school, my mother’s instruction “Don’t do anything that will embarrass me.” It was clear to me from a young age that my behavior at school and in public did not only reflect me, but my mother as well. My mother is a woman of great pride and dignity who has worked hard to protect this dignity in spite of varied assaults and I would never want to do something that would bring shame to her. Detailed knowledge of the efforts of others for us instills a sense of personal accountability beyond ourselves.

#2. Knowledge of history provides emotional support

We are not alone, we have an entire community of supporters cheering for our success.

We are not alone, we have an entire community of supporters cheering for our success.

Although we may be physically standing in a classroom or boardroom by ourselves, our connection to our family and collective history reminds us that in spirit we are surrounded by a community of supporters cheering us on. This awareness provides us with the strength and confidence to succeed in spaces that are not necessarily welcoming or comfortable. It is difficult to be “the only.” The only person of color in a white classroom, the only woman in a male dominated field, the only person from a working class family in an elite profession. Visualizing our family with us is a way of claiming that social space as our own and asserting our right to be there.  In situations where you are the minority, there are numerous subtle and not so subtle messages that you do not belong. However, when you recognize that you are not “the only” one and that you have a larger community of people standing there with you, there is a renewed sense of strength and belonging. This provides you with the confidence needed to succeed in the face of others’ questions about your ability.

 

#3 Knowledge of history identifies us as overcomers

History reminds us that we are overcomers.

History reminds us that we are overcomers.

Reviewing our history reminds us that people have faced similar or greater struggles and have overcome through determination and effort. That struggle could be as individual as your grandmother being left alone to parent eight children on her own but rising to the task and doing her best to make sure every child was fed and loved. Or it could be a collective struggle, like remembering your grandparents who survived the Jewish Holocaust or the Armenian genocide in Turkey. These personal stories remind you that you are not the first person to experience devastating hardship. You come from a people that have experienced intense suffering and yet have been able to survive and transform that suffering into personal triumph. You are a product of their success and you have inherited this legacy of being an overcomer. The same spiritual, social, and emotional resources your family and community used to succeed are available to you at any moment of need.

 

Fuel your success engine with history

You can now see the wisdom of Carter G. Woodson’s decision to start “Negro History Week”, which later became “Black History Month”.  The activities of this month help to educate non-Black people about the value of the Black community’s contribution to America and the world. Yet I believe that the biggest impact of these activities is the strength and resilience it gives to people who identify as members of the Black community. These stories of history infuse Black people, young and old, with psychological and spiritual resources to succeed.

 

The act of sharing the stories is passing on a gift of strength and resilience that fuels our individual and collective success.

The act of sharing the stories is passing on a gift of strength and resilience that fuels our individual and collective success.

Regardless of whether you are a member of the Black community, I invite you to consider how you can participate in this powerful act of using your history to promote your success. Dr. DeGruy’s research reminds us that intimate knowledge of our personal family history is just as important as knowledge of our collective history in increasing our resilience and success. Take time to learn about and reflect upon your individual family’s history. How can you use these stories to increase your success? In addition, make sure to share your personal history with others as a means of promoting their success.  Your experiences and choices have taught you important lessons about yourself and the world. These lessons don’t have to packaged in a neat bow or be confined to a particular month of the year; they are gifts of wisdom that can equip others with the resiliency needed to succeed.

 

If you would like to share a story about the gift of resiliency that fuels your success or the success of others, please do so below. You have no idea of the power of your story until you tell it.

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