Posts Tagged ‘choices’

Turning On Your Success Faucet

I’m not a New Year’s Resolution type of person. For me it runs much deeper. I set “Intentions” that are based upon my deeper life goals. My intentions form the basis of my decisions when choosing which tool I will select from my inner toolbox and how I will employ it as I make choices all year long. When faced with a decision, I ask myself, “What choice takes me closer to my goal? Does this align with my intention?” You should know that these are not ordinary goals; they are the heart-filled keys to my success. Success that starts in my inner world and is mirrored in my outer success.

Many of my clients come to me saying, “I don’t know what I want to do next. I just know it’s not what I’ve been doing.” These are executives and professionals with many of the trappings of externally based success. What they are seeking is more than just a new job, they are looking for satisfaction, a sense of meaning from what they do – I call it inner success. In my experience, nearly every one of them does know, deep inside, what it is they want to do, they simply need some help in the excavation work. And when they tap into this inner success, it shines brightly in their external success.

In the process of digging deeply into this tomb where our desires have been buried, we start with the question “What do you want? No, I mean REALLY want!” When I first asked myself this question, I realized that the part of me I’ve come to call my Wanter was broken. Long ago, I had learned how to determine what was available to me and then make myself seem happy with whatever crumb was offered, instead of discerning what I truly wanted and then being willing to do what it took to get what I wanted, really wanted, deep down. Perhaps you, too, have lived under the admonition to “be practical” or you squelch your desires before they even have a breath with phrases like “it isn’t realistic.” How do you know what is possible if you don’t allow yourself to even know what you want?

Too many of us decide what we want based on what we were told we should want. Every day, I talk with clients who, after completing medical school or law school, have practiced a profession for decades, because that’s what their parents thought they should be doing. Or men and women with MBA’s who tell me that following their dreams now would be a waste of all that education. Or that the debt they’ve amassed creating the illusion of external success has them feeling trapped. I am always amazed how people seemingly at the pinnacle of their careers, are secretly unhappy and wonder why. These are wonderful people who have houses or cars or activities or entire lives that are founded on having what the culture has defined as markers of success. Yet, they are caught in the meat grinder of wanting what cannot fill them up.

See if this you can relate to this scenario. You and a friend are meeting for dinner while you’re away on business. Your friend suggests a restaurant that you don’t know anything about but he says got great reviews. When you arrive at the restaurant, it’s impressive, but on your first scan of the menu, nothing jumps out at you. Disappointed, you take a second look, deciding to choose something from what is available. While your stomach will be full at the end of the meal, and surely you’ll have enjoyed conversation with your friend, and can brag at home about going to such a fine restaurant, you end up grabbing a candy bar from the mini-bar back in your hotel room as you flick on the TV to watch The Daily Show.

Now imagine this scenario. Your friend asks you what you’d like to eat for dinner and you tell him you have been craving eggplant parmagiano. He suggests a little Italian bistro near your hotel. You order the eggplant parm. Your mouth is delighted, your tummy hums and you and your friend linger long into the night catching up on each other’s lives. As you tuck into your hotel room that night, you feel satisfied and notice the smile on your face and how it’s coming from deep inside you.

What’s the difference? You knew what you wanted and when you got it, it satisfied more than just an externally motivated part of you.

That deeper satisfaction comes from aligning our external actions with our inner goals. It is the secret to your success. Those of us who are fulfilling our inner goals have what seems like effortless success. We are using our talents and expressing our values. But getting to those inner goals requires looking beyond status, power and other people’s opinions. It requires looking beyond what’s simply available to choose from and trying to make yourself happy with it and, instead, delving into your own heart’s wanting. Maybe this year, for Valentine’s Day, you might give yourself or your sweetheart a chance to live a heartfelt life. I have put together some ideas here.

I frequently ask my clients questions like these:

  • What is the legacy you want to leave behind marking your life in the world?
  • If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?
  • What would you do if all jobs paid the same and had the same prestige?
  • When in your life have you been most joy-filled and engaged?
  • What is your secret dream?
  • What are the barriers to combining happy and successful in your life?

In April, I will be hosting a 3-day workshop in Scottsdale, Arizona called Tapping Your Inner Wealth. This workshop will be focused on working in person with a small group of men and women to identify your inner success and make it shine as your outer wealth. If you are unable to join me live in Scottsdale, I will be launching an eight week online telecourse in May to help you Turn on Your Own Tap of Success or you can schedule a phone session with me by clicking on the link in the sidebar at the upper right of this column.

Before you decide that what you want is impossible for yourself, I ask you to reframe that statement and see if really the way to read the word impossible is “I’m possible”.

The Risks of Using Call Waiting

“Denise, there’s a call on line 1 for you.  He wouldn’t give me his name and said ‘you’d know what he was calling about’.”

“Can’t you see I have my Do Not Disturb light on?”  I replied.  “Tell whoever it is I’m busy and I’ll call him back later.”  My assistant answered that the caller said he would hold until I was ready.  I hated sales people who were that obnoxious and couldn’t hear “No” and I brushed her off impatiently with a “Fine, he can hold until I’m good and ready then!”

I went back to the project I was working on, aggravated at yet another interruption.  I was behind the eight ball already on this day, with a to-do list longer than my arm and the end of the month looming ahead of me.

Years ago, my husband had asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  Only half-jokingly, I had answered “Eight extra hours a day so I can catch up on what I always have undone at the end of each day!”  He bought me an Ipod instead, commenting that if I had more hours I would likely just try to fit more in on my schedule.   I remembered that I needed to try to find time to upload some music for relaxation onto my Ipod and wondered if there was a teenager to whom I could outsource that task.

As I was turning out the light to leave the office, late that night, I noticed that the hold light was blinking on my phone.  I picked it up and said impatiently, “This is Denise.  Who is this?”

The voice on the other end of the line said, “It’s your life.  I’ve been waiting for you.”

I dropped the phone and started thinking about how long I had been avoiding this call.

For years now, everything else came first, that is … everything that felt like an obligation or a distraction.  Each time I heard the whisper of this call, I filled my hours with something – another project, another committee obligation, another anything – just so I wouldn’t have to sit with the voice of this caller who wanted me to look at the meaning of my life and why I was here.  I avoided this call because I was afraid I would have to do something about what I heard if I listened.

How does the call of your life haunt you?  Does it come from inside you on Sunday night when you start dreading your return to the office.  Is it the pain in your heart when you hear your six year old daughter cry because you’re leaving on another business trip that will have you away from home more nights instead of tucking her in and reading her The Velveteen Rabbit.  Maybe your calling sings the familiar song “I Should Do Something” when you read about the people who have lost everything in the latest weather disaster and you wish you could get that song out of your head and just get back to enjoying American Idol.

Calls are serious business.  Responding to them is how we make something worthwhile out of our lives. Listen here to a recording on finding the courage to listen to your call.

Not every call is a blockbuster, star-making epic.  One or two of them may take up most of our time, but other more urgent calls weave their way into our lives from time to time.  Some of them, like being a nurturing, attentive parent or riding out the illness of a friend who needs our extra attention, engage our minds and our hearts and do not earn us accolades or cover photos on national magazines.  Others draw us deep beneath the noise of social conventions and impact lives in unimaginable ways.

It is neither the duration nor the visibility of the call that matters.  A life-changing call engages your ability to listen to both the subtle and obvious messages that rise within you and to see the nuance of something transcendent in the role before you.  You answer the call through your willingness to move beyond merely filling the role or carrying out the duties a task requires by choosing to imbue your intention and your courage into your actions.

When you get serious about answering your call, mentors and supporters will appear.  They will guide you with teachable moments and they will appeal to your innate human longing to be more than what you presently are.  As you move toward embodying your calling, they will help you draw upon your courage to step into the potential that sounds quietly in your dreams.

You have a choice, to just live your life, work a job, and fulfill a role or to commit to answering a series of worthy calls within this life of yours.  Listen carefully to the whispers and shouts of your callings and answer them with all the passion and cleverness at your disposal.  Use every means of introspection and mentorship available to you to help you find the courage to answer the call to make a difference – both where you find yourself now and in the place where your calling takes you.

After all, there’s a call for you on hold right now, all you have to do is answer it.

I work as a mentor to men and women ready to listen for their calling.  Schedule a complementary session or listen to a free sample of my new e-learning program on finding your true calling.

 

Building Your Courage Muscles

I was talking to the massage therapist the other night about my upcoming workshop on Courageous Choices and what a thrill I get every time I am able to help someone let go of the familiar to try something new. Whether it’s a new job with a different company, asserting new boundaries within an important relationship or a significant transition like choosing a new career – each step toward change requires moving beyond a well trod comfort zone and that takes courage.

For most of us, the path from the Land of Wishing to the Land of Having requires us to step through the Gate of Doing. Typically, we step through that gate only when a) the pain of staying where we are is too great to stay put or b) the desire for that for which we have been wishing becomes strong enough to overcome the inertia of resisting. I’ve seen that pain come from any of a thousand different avenues for the people I work with – getting fired, not being able to raise the next fund, learning your spouse is preparing to leave you, a serious medical issue, death of a loved one, the empty nest or a gnawing restlessness that you just can’t put your finger on but you know you can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing any longer.

For nearly everyone, “wanting” something to be different may be the starting point, but as the old saying goes “nothing changes if nothing changes.” Change requires action, plain and simple – no avoiding it. It is often fear that keeps us from taking the action we most need to see the changes we desire. Fear is not the enemy, inertia is. Fear challenges you to build your courage muscles and when you make friends with fear by stepping outside of your comfort zone, your comfort zone expands. Too often we hold ourselves back from taking the steps that will improve our lives and fulfill us, hoping that our fear will go away. The fear that you might not make enough money or that you won’t be as successful in a new career or that someone is going to be upset about your decision can keep you stuck where you are, hoping that “some day” you’ll wake up and feel the courage to try something new. Believe me, courage is not going to find you, you’re going to have to tackle that fear and step into the courage whether you want to get a new job, give a speech or leave a relationship that just clearly isn’t working anymore.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, the pioneering psychiatrist in the work of grief surrounding the dying found that the most oft-cited fear was the fear of death, even though we all know that it is inevitable and unavoidable. Her research showed that those who felt they understood and acted on their purpose in life or found special meaning in what they had been able to do faced significantly less fear and despair in the final weeks of their lives than those who had not.

Identifying the work we are meant to do and the strength of character to do something that frightens us and then deploying the physical or mental or emotional willingness to do it is empowering and exhilarating. It requires reflection, introspection, a willingness to look at things in a new way, and the courage to actually step out of one’s comfort zone and do something different and unfamiliar and yes, sometimes, frightening.

Often I hear “What will other people think or say if I (fill in the blank)?” A fellow I’m working with has become clear about the specific step that he needs to take to have the life of his dream, one he’s been dreaming of for as long as he can remember, admitted that he was worried about what his family and friends would say if he took this step. He wasn’t sure he could stand up to their criticism of his decision, even though he knew that if he didn’t act soon his dream would really be beyond his reach. I shared with him a favorite quote: The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. – Rollo May

Courage is the willingness to act in accordance with one’s beliefs, especially in spite of criticism or disapproval of others. Many people stay in jobs they detest and go to events they despise and behave in certain ways that violate their integrity just to please other people, all the while draining their life force into the pit of conformity for the poison pill of approval. To me, it is a sad waste of a life. After all, I often joke that if your friends think less of you for chasing your dream, you need some better friends! And, families often use the tool of guilt to manipulate their loved ones into conformity because of their own fears and wants. While it’s easy to confuse courage and bravery, I think courage is not the absence of fear, but the resistance to fear and mastery of that which you have not yet achieved.

Here are some questions I use to regain my courage:

1. What do I really (in my deepest heart) want? (Be precise)
2. What do I need to do to have that? (List every action)
3. What am I afraid of? (List every fear, no matter how silly it looks in writing)
4. What does avoiding this fear cost me?
5. What would I do if I weren’t afraid? (List every action)
6. At the end of my life, will I regret not having done this?
7. How will my life benefit from facing this fear?
8. What else might I be able to do if I faced this fear?
9. What specific actions must I take in spite of this fear so I may have what I want?
10. What one action am I willing to take today and who can I ask to support me?

Dear friends, I want for you the life of your dreams. You deserve it, you’re worth it and as Christopher Robin said to Pooh, “Promise me you’ll always remember you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”  If you need me to be your Christopher Robin, I’m here.