Thursday, December 27, 2012

Get Ready For 2013



What does a piano lesson, a question on LinkedIn, a random Facebook forward and a small baptist college in Elgin, IL have in common? They were all vehicles for the brain trust that came together as a "super" tribe for Relationships Matter Now on Saturday Dec 8, 2012.

Super tribe because this group of people spent  1/2 that December Saturday - two of them remotely via Skype - thinking about the future of Relationships Matter Now, LLC, strategic planning for 2013 and beyond.

I share this story for two reasons... one to encourage you to gather like minded people around your 'cause' for the coming year and to remind you to have a plan for that cause.

Whatever it is you want to do, whatever you need to accomplish  - it will not happen with you alone. It must be aided by the relationships in your life and what better time to rally folks than in a reflecting exercise on where you are and where you want to go.

That's what we did that cold Saturday morning. Three in one room and two online. Technology challenged but we stayed to course and hammered out some clear cut things that Relationships Matter Now can do to jump start 2013.

Not only is there a basic framework for the founder to follow but there is built in accountability because 4 other people know what needs to happen as well. There are specific deliverables, dates to regroup and road map to get started immediately.

Relationships Matter Now is ready for 2013! Are you? Is your business? your career? If you cannot say yes to all these things - I'm gonna need you to do the following:

Reflect

Take a moment to reflect on the past year. What was good? What was not good? What could have been better? What could have been worse? Who helped? Who hindered? Grab a journal and write it down. Grab a tribe member and get their feedback. You (like many of us) are too close to it. You need some outside perspective. Reflect alone and reflect in a group or with a partner but please take the time to reflect on 2012. You cannot move forward well without at least reviewing what's happened and why.

Record

As you think ahead - record what you feel, what you want to feel. Record what you envision happening. Write down the people who can help make it happen. Write down a few scenarios on how you can get it to happen. Share these recordings with your tribe -perhaps your "super" tribe - those closest to you and who have the most interest in what you are doing. Don't share this with just anyone - these thoughts, actions, plans are precious and only need to be shared with your inner circle. Recording them is step one and sharing is another step but both are essential to getting you ready for 2013.

So what are you waiting for? Get going!

Monday, December 17, 2012

3 Easy Ways To Protect Your Fun This Holiday Season


Over the next few weeks, most of us will be faced with the prospect of spending more time than normal with our close and/or extended loved ones.  That thought can bring both joy and terror to the hearts of many.

We all know that the holidays adds pressure that is not there at other times of the year. I want to encourage you to protect your fun this holiday season. Here are three practical things you can do:

Breathe Deeply. Often.

In our rush, rush, hurry hurry society, it is easy to just quickly move from place-to-place, person-to-person without ever really truly experiencing a moment.  Breathing deeply, often forces you to do that. When we take deep breathes, we are confined to the moment we are in. It forgets what is behind and holds off what lies ahead. A deep exaggerated inhale and intentionally pushed out exhale holds the participant in the time it takes to do it. It clears the mind and empties the heart, even if just for a few seconds. You cannot do anything else when you do it. 

Smile.

Genuinely open your heart and widen your mouth as much as you possibly can over the next few weeks. Especially try this at that trying dinner/cocktail/visit you know you will be faced with. Smiling eases the muscles in your face and takes less energy than a frown. Use a smile in response to the dig you may get from the family member who takes sarcastic digs at everyone. Smile to yourself as you realize you missed a gathering or forgot to buy a gift you'd planned on getting.  Smile knowing that your regular routine - good or bad is just a few days away. Smile knowing your have an opportunity to make the new year that is fast approaching, a new beginning.

Use Fewer Words.

Speak less words in your interactions this holiday season.  Precise communication really helps all situations. Choosing wisely what to say and what not to say can make the difference in every relationship you have this holiday season. This is especially tough but important for both those close relations and the distant ones. In our close relations, we feel comfortable saying "all we have to say" while in our distant relations, we often feel the need to "fill them in" because of the distance. I say use fewer words in all settings and see how it goes. You may hear more than you normally do. You will certainly have less pressure to say the right thing if you go this route.

Picking one or more of these tips will surely protect your fun this holiday season.  I employed them all last year and will be doing it again this year.

Happy holidays. Merry Christmas. Happy Hannukah. and a Happy and Prosperous 2013!

Monday, December 10, 2012

RIP Jenni Rivera - What A Difference 17 years Makes or Not

The late Jenni Rivera and her now estranged husband, former White Sox Pitcher Esteban Loaiza

Another young famous person is gone too soon.

With the news of the passing of "La diva de banda" Jenni Rivera sending shock waves through Latin America and across the Spanish speaking community in the United States, I'm no longer an outsider looking in. I am feeling this loss even though I do not listen to banda - the music that Jenni made a household name to most anyone who speaks Spanish in the world. She'd sold close to 20M albums and just released a new one in the last few weeks.

The last time the Latin world mourned someone with such charisma, beauty and potential to cross over into general market stardom was over 17 years ago when Selena Quintanilla Perez left this planet by an assasin's bullet.

I remember seeing the news and not understanding, at all the magnitude of the loss. As the death of any young person always grips me, someone who had to deal with death since a very early age, I could not fathom the blow that the Latin community seemed to take when they lost Selena in 1995. I'd never heard one song. I'd never even remembered seeing her on the Grammy Awards show the year before her death and I was a huge music fan.

After her death, I proceeded to learn all I could about Selena since really my only connection to her at the time of her death was that we were both born in 1971. I read articles, books, anything I could get my hands on in English and in Spanish to learn about this fallen star and why so many people were hurt by her parting.

I did this because of how annoyed and disgusted I was by hearing people say things like - "Who is she?"  "Why does this matter?" Of course, every person matters, famous or not -but my goal then was to spread myself outside my world - which at that time really consisted of very little outside "mainstream American culture."

That journey, the spring and summer of 1995 opened my eyes to a rich culture that had been in my life all along growing up in Chicago Heights, IL when the census count was most likely 30% White, 30% Black and 30% Mexican-American. I bet back then that many of the gals I grew up with in da Heights knew and mourned the loss of Selena and vowed that would not happen to me again.

The years that followed saw me do many many things to broaden my culutral horizon including travel to many countries in Europe and Latin America. I became fluent in Spanish because I knew it would help me as I worked for a Major League Soccer team start-up - the Chicago Fire. Mostly teaching myself via telenovelas and Spanish music. Amazing how the universe conspires to change your life when you are ready.

Fast forward to 2012.

LOTS has changed in my life since 1995, most notably, I am Mexican por matrimonio (by marriage). So you can imagine, upon hearing the news of Jenni Rivera's missing plane and subsequent crash that not only did I know who Jenni was - I'd actually seen her show, I Love Jenni on mun2, once or twice. I'd heard her music at a quincenera or even at my home as we flipped though the hundreds of channels on cable TV - a third of which are Spanish speaking in our house.

So what? You may be thinking...

Well not much has changed in 17 years. People are still in the dark about the "Jenni Riveras" of our country. Social media amplifies that now versus then - did you see some of the comments on the CNN stories or on Twitter?

"Who cares? I don't know her"

"Why is this news?"

Those were the most frustrating comments to me.  And they were the same comments I heard 17 years ago when Selena was killed. Famous American women not even recognized in our shared country. Yeah, our country. Jenni and Selena were both born here in California and Texas.  Both were groundbreaking musical artists who appealed to a huge and growing segment of the US. You could even say that Selena opened the door to Jenni's success. Their contributions to music and beyond were huge and growing each year with both women branching out into fashion and other industries with their unique style and appeal. And because their contribution to our American mosaic is still not quite accepted and valued, these women packaged their talents and sold them to millions of  people outside their home country. Nothing is wrong with that, I'd just like to see the day when we can accept that America is evolving and changing and everyone's contributions to that change is valuable. And until our relationship with diversity and differences changes in our country, we will continue to have more to the same behavior towards one another.

I'd love it if the next Selena or Jenni does not have leave these shores to make their fortune.

RIP Jenni Rivera, I'm glad I had the chance to know who you were.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

From Here To Your Life's Work: Step 5 - Make A Bold Move

Fifth and final step toward your life's work
We've come to the place in the journey where the rubber meets to road.

Do you really believe you've found your life's work?

Are you ready to take a gamble on yourself?

Will you make a move that scares you?

Regardless your answers to those questions, you at this point and you need to answer them honestly.

Over the last few weeks, we've journeyed through the main topics of my book, From Here to There: 5 Steps To Doing Your Life's Work Every Day. The final step in the journey comes easy for some.

After spending the time to find your voice, build the tribe, start something and committing to using your best talents daily - the final step just presents itself and many will grab the opportunity. Or it could take time practically pass you by like it happened for me.

While I was starting stuff and using my talents daily, the "bold move" took more than a full year to manifest itself for me. I contend that this step is actually a series of small bold moves that allow you to take comfort in your direction.

Had I not started making small bold moves before the fall of 2011, I am pretty sure I would not have recognized the bold, bold move when it appeared.  One of my small bold moves was making an identity for the my business and making business cards in the summer of 2010. Engaging a design group to create a logo and mark for Relationships Matter Now was one of the first moves I made to bring the ideas and thoughts on my life's work to life.

Stepping out, spending money and engaging outsiders in that vision way back then was really a bold move albeit small in my eyes. There were a series of these small bold moves for the 15 months until I made what I now point to as THE bold move that changed the course of the business and subsequently my life. Without question, the small steps made me ready for the big one when it appeared. It is the simple law of momentum. Once an object is set into motion in a direction, lots of forces support the move and only a huge counter effort can stop it.

We must not waver. Once you start the journey to your life's work - you must complete it. There is no time frame but you have to take advantage of any momentum you generate and you have to make bold moves. Often.


Be ready when your bold move presents itself.

Monday, November 26, 2012

From Here To Your Life's Work: Step Four - Commit To Using Your Best Talents Daily

Step 4 To Doing Your Life's Work: Commit to Using Your Best Talents
This is the point in the journey where it gets a bit easier for a moment.

Finding your voice, tough.

Finding your tribe can be tougher than finding your voice.

Starting something can be terrifying for some.

Committing to using your best talents daily should be the easiest of all the steps we've reviewed to date.

Why?

Because they are your best talents and I'm pretty sure they are things that you are very good at naturally or enjoy doing tremendously. So the challenge to use them more often should be a welcome one.  Now if you shoot back that you don't even KNOW what your best talents are - still not a problem. Go figure that out.

There are so many resources available to assist you in this area. Personally, I've used Myers-Briggs Personality Test and StrengthFinders 2.0 but there are many resources help you identify your best talents.

Without question, identifying and utilizing your best talents are critical for doing your life's work. One of the key principles I point out in my book, From Here To There: 5 Steps To Doing Your Life's Work Every Day is that your life's work has nothing to do with where you work or who you work for but everything to do with the work itself. And the "work itself" stems from your ability to harness and execute consistently against your best talents.

For me, my best talents (in no order) are the following:

Cast a vision
Ignite people
Inspire people

In order to know that I am fully doing my life's work every day - I must be doing one of the above talents daily. And it is an intentional commitment. My daily to do list is not complete without tasks that include one of my best talents. In fact, I often create a "to don't" list to ensure my focus. Let's dive a bit on my point from earlier in the post - the fact that your best talents are your best talents for a reason.

When you are using your best talents, you most likely doing something that comes naturally to you or something that you enjoy.  When you're doing something enjoyable, do you care about time? Are you watching the clock? Of course not. You just do that thing and can often times be described as "going into your own little world."

I see this every time I get a peek at my Evan playing guitar. We push him to practice and he always balks but when you get the chance to see him making music - it is unbelievable. He just plays and plays. Time is not an issue because Evan is a natural at guitar. He hears the music not only with his ears but with his heart.

That's me at a strategic planning session or a customer service workshop and brainstorm. It is bliss for me to see others igniting on their own words and ideas as I draw them out and put them to paper before their eyes.

Guys, this is the money step.

When you commit to using your best talents daily, you will see the world transform around you to enable you to do it more. Get started right away. Even in the smallest way, figure out how to integrate your best talents into your daily routines.


How will you do that today?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

From Here To Your Life's Work: Step 3 Start Something






This is the easiest of the 5 steps.

Who doesn't understand START SOMETHING?

Once you have your purpose (VOICE)  and people (TRIBE) in place to help push your purpose - it is only logical that you start doing something. Immediately.

There is really not much more to elaborate here.

Wanna be a motivational speaker? Schedule a talk.

Love baking and want to do it all the time? Offer to make treats for a party at work

Want to have a famous BBQ joint? Roast a pork butt for an event at your church

Want to help disadvantage youth? Mentor some one in the Boys and Girls club

Want to work with elderly retirees? Volunteer to run a games shift at a local nursing home

Do you smell what I'm cooking? This step is as little or as big as you make it.

In the book, I reference many things that I started. Some I'm still doing, others - not so much.

This step is really one of the most important you will take on the road to your life's work. You HAVE to start somewhere. Volunteering is a great way to start and animate your tribe to help you find opportunities that pay. And don't immediately think you can't ask for money for the things you start. Perhaps there is a budget at church for the meals they serve to volunteers. They were gonna spend it anyway - why not on you?

Plus the more your start, the more you learn and the quicker you can get to what you really need to be doing. Can't get there from an idea or a plan on paper.

You have to do something.

Read more about the journey to your life's work in the new book - buy it on Amazon following this link: From Here To There: 5 Steps To Doing Your Life's Work Every Day





Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why 11.11.11 Will Go Down In My HiStory?


In the midst of the final preparations for the launch party this week for my book, From Here To There: 5 Days To Doing Your Life's Work, it occurred to me that one year ago today everything related to Relationships Matter Now and my work life changed forever.

Exactly one year ago today, I closed the "deal" that sealed my fate as an entrepreneur versus an employedpreneur. While it took a few more weeks to hammer out a contract, tend to other legal wranglings and then actually start the work, it was on a sunny Friday afternoon, 5 days before I turned 40 years old that it all became very real.

I recall making the ask for the business after presenting my plan that was worth close to $3.4M in marketing services. It was surreal when the potential immediately said yes. I remember being ready to "rebut" the push back on the price of the package presented. The team I'd assembled to do the work had made our plan A and had several a la carte options ready to present should the client balk at the price tag. When the client said yes and asked when we could start, I did not miss a beat and replied, "November 28. Provided we come to an agreement quickly"

"Draw it up!" was his comeback

And with a handshake, it happened.

I was no longer dependent on someone else to assign me work or projects.

It was completely in my hands who I worked with - to whom I chose to lend my talent.

The amount of money I earned was also in my own control.

I would begin to do the work I loved, that I was uniquely called to do, every day  - from that moment on.

In the car on the way home, I called first my husband. Elated with tears and all - I told him the deal was on. The second call I made was to my dad. And then I just drove home in silence, reflecting on all the stops and starts. Replaying all the little things I'd done to bring me to that moment and I just beamed.

If you read the book you'll know that that contract fizzled 4 months later but that did not change the enormous impact November 11, 2011 had on me.

That day will be seared in my mind and heart as the day I freed myself of all constraints to do the my life's work every day. I have not looked back. And regardless what happens in my business and life - I will always remember 11.11.11.

Want to get closer to your own 11.11.11? Take a moment and check out my book on Amazon - it just may be the push you need to get you on your journey to your 11.11.11.



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

3 Ways To Heal Your Heart After This Election

A picture of my heart today
No one is more happy for this day than me.

Politically active pretty much since birth, there was a time when election season was one of my favorites times.

Not so anymore.

The illustration to your right is a reflection of what election season does to my heart nowadays.

Social media and social networks has opened the doors to insights about what people in our circles really think and feel about issues facing our nation.

These revelations have really been heavy on my heart. I took a pledge to not engage in name calling or bickering at the start of season and I don't intend to rehash it now. But I will share what I am doing to heal from Decision 2012

Practice Forgiveness

Despite the hurt feelings or shock and surprise at some of the commentary, postings, rantings- I resolve today to forgive people in my life who have engaged in negative tactics related to the election.  I will not be held captive by my hurt over these things. Forgiveness is something that has to happen. And no, I don't need those people to apologize to extend the forgiveness. Forgiveness is not about them, it's about me. It's about giving myself a new start on the issue and moving forward.                                                                                                 

Acknowledge Friends versus Connections

Ted Rubin, a friend and fellow social networker put it best this week in a post:

Facebook has done an amazing thing – they now own the word “friend”. The problem is that they have devalued the word while adding value to their brand.

To be clear — I am not saying that connecting through Facebook is a bad thing; I’m saying that few of us actually take the time to connect in the ways that a real friend would. We are missing the chance to use social media as a tool that facilitates real relationships and instead using “friends” as points in a popularity contest.


Let’s take the word “Friend” back and fill it with value again!

I could not have said it better myself. I am connected to many on Facebook but not all of them are people I'd call friends. Some are colleagues, acquaintances, neighbors etc etc. But not all those people are friends. What those who are closest to me say and post that is negative impact me, but not as harshly because I know them. I know the heart of the person behind the rhetoric and hurtful things they may post and we have established a RELATIONSHIP that can withstand the disagreement. Even if it's hurtful and disparaging, a relationship allows a safety net to preserve the connection and call each other out to keep the friendship strong through the disagreement. That has allowed me to get to a place of forgiveness quicker. Distinguishing who my true friends are and only having to reconcile their opposing views is much less exhausting than attempting to do that with all 900+ people I'm connected to on Facebook.

Live Your Desire

This final one really reflects the how I started the whole Decision 2012 season - declaring not to participate negatively. We need to be intentional in our actions. With the exception of one Rolling Stone article and my weekly The Onion satirical posts - I did not try and "fact" my connection list to death on my views. People who know me, know what/who I support. And while I have every right to post articles that support that view or candidate, I CHOSE to refrain. Why? Because I wanted to see some different behavior this cycle and what better place to start than my own Twitter stream or Facebook timeline? So many people SAY they want to "stay above the fray" or "take the high road" but could not resist the temptation to jump in and set someone else straight. Resist. Don't fall. Be the change you want to see. Behave the way you desire to behave and do it consistently.

It will be a short recovery for me this election season because I have to get my own petitions in for my spring re-election campaign for Village Lake in the Hills Board of Trustees race by December 24.

Good thing we don't buy TV in local elections.

Monday, November 5, 2012

From Here To Your Life's Work: Find Your Tribe

Step Two To Doing Your Life's Work - The People
Once you have found your purpose, it is only logical that you are intentional and select the people who will join you on this journey.

This is such a tough topic.

Most people are not very intentional about who they do life with. They sort of default to the usual suspects:

Family of origin

Co-workers

Church pew buddies

Pub pals


You can keep the list going but you know what I mean - the people who just "appear" in our lives as we go about our daily duties and habits, with little attention to who stays and who goes.

This is perhaps one of my favorite topics to broach. The company we keep is key to how our lives unfold. There is no denying this. We have to be conscious of who we let in and who we usher out. It does not just happen naturally.

There is nothing more important than guarding our dreams, hearts and very lives from ill. People impact us - positively and negatively. It is 100% our own responsibility to protect ourselves from toxic people.

In the book, I speak to this very succinctly and I'll do it again here:

Toxic people must be dropped from your life immediately.

No excuses.

Especially, if you are on a journey to doing your life's work every day. You need people who support you - not necessarily the endeavor. Do you see the difference? It is subtle but powerful.

People that will accompany you on this journey must love you. People who help get you "from here to there" respect you. People who walk with you in life must accept you.

Most toxic people I know are not capable of all three of the above and it is imperative that you don't compromise one point. Love. Respect. Acceptance. All deal breakers.

Whether you embark on the journey to your life's work or not, this is sound relationship advice. You need to surround yourself with people who love, respect and accept you.

So, the challenge this week is to look into your tribe... who belongs? Who does not? Who stays? Who goes?

Bonus - does anyone have any tips for ridding themselves of toxic people they'd like to share?

Monday, October 29, 2012

From Here To Your Life's Work: Find Your Voice

Step one on the journey to your life's work
My first book,  From Here To There: 5 Steps To Doing Your Life's Work Every Day launches November 1. The next 5 weeks of posts here will give you a peek into the content you'll find in the book. Find Your Voice is the first step.

What is your voice?

Your voice is your purpose.

The very thing you were put on this earth to do.

Stay with me...

I know that this is tough for some folks to grasp but have you ever stopped to think why you were put on the planet? It's a heavy thought and one that you must ponder sooner rather than later.

I had the honor of being faced with personal and professional turmoil four years ago and there is NOTHING like adversity to force one to reflect.  I was already decent at self-reflecting but that dark period changed me forever. You see I had nothing to distract me. Life at home was sucky. Life at work was worse. There was no escape. I had to come to grips with my reality and it was beautiful. I would not trade my dark time for anything. For out of my darkness, came an incredible light.

Most periods of growth occur after a period of strife. Look at any nation's history. Look at economic trends for the 50 years. Growth almost always comes after a rough patch.


Helen Keller said it best:

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."

So instead of resisting trials and adversity and looking for an "easy way out" - embrace your adversity. See it for what it really is... an opportunity to put you closer to your life's purpose.

Once you find your purpose, then you are on your way to fulfilling it.

Challenge: Take a moment to look at a negative situation you are faced with and turn it on it's head. How can that adversity put you closer to your purpose? Is there a nugget of life in the ashes?

NEXT WEEK: Step Two - Find Your Tribe

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Salute to Hustlers Everywhere!






Yesterday culminated a process that started with a Skype catch-up call with a college pal in April.

My first book, From Here To There: 5 Steps To Doing Your Life's Work Every Day is now on sale at Amazon.com.

This achievement was not on the "to do" list this year. Which is why the post is titled the way it is. Today, I salute people who just make stuff happen!

You know them well - they are people that get kicked in the behind by life and figure out how to make it work for them, anyway.

They are the people who take a setback and convert it into a comeback.

They are the people who fall but quickly bounce when they hit the pavement.

They are people who take the lemons life hands them and converts it into a lemon pie.

They hustle.

Dictionary definition for the transitive verb is as follows:

  a. to proceed or work rapidly
  b. to push or force one's way
  c. to be aggressive in business or financial dealings

Of course, we all know the slang and urban definition, but how often to we stop and think of the literal definition? I had not until today. More than 10 times in the last few months have I been referred to by others as a "hustler." On the surface, I took it as a compliment and kept moving - even yuk yukking it up about it once or twice. Beneath the surface, it stung a bit. Until today.

I AM a hustler. I embrace the term.

Last spring, I had a client break a contract that would have sent ordinary people begging back into their corporate jobs and chucking a dream (and all the effort) to return to "normal."

For me that was not an option.

I went back to the drawing board and redirected my energy. I "hustled" two additional projects from a partner with on long-term project option at that time. I found a small contract to keep cash flowing and it honors my best talents.  I set my company up to do business with the federal government. And I wrote and self-published my first book complete with  multi-channel marketing promotion plan.

Now the fun begins. 

But before it does - I salute all the people out there who do the same thing - day in and day out.

Super kudos to my fellow hustlers.

We make the world go 'round!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Perspective: 2 Tips To Broaden Yours


With 22 days before Decision 2012, we are all more than ready for the presidential contest to be over. Regardless which side of the election you fall on, we are all fatigued and ready to move on. One thing I'd love for us to learn from this arduous race, is the value of understanding our own perspective and how it shapes our lives.

Over the life of this blog, there have been no less than 5 posts on the topic of perspective. It is of utmost importance to recognize how our perspective impacts our actions, inaction and so much more.

There have been two debates to date and both times I have scratched my head trying to sort out and reconcile what the pundits, my network and my own perspective has told me about those debates. It is indeed mind numbing as it relates to politics but I challenge - isn't that the case with all areas of our lives?

Success or failure?

Contentment or discontent?

Opportunity or adversity?

There are always pundits in life who pontificate on what makes us successful or not. There will always be opinions on how to be content or even happy versus the alternative. There are countless thoughts on opportunity and adversity.

It all boils down to our individual perspective.

Merriam-Webster defines perspective this way:

a : the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed perspective
>; also : point of view
b : the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance perspective
>
 

Know someone who, no matter what happens, believes that the world is "out to get him or her?"

Have you ever met someone who is perpetually positive and upbeat?

Each of these people see their world based on what they are looking for. It plays out in political contests and it plays out in other areas of our lives.

How can you harness the power of what you look for?

Be Open
Not on paper but in real life. Be flexible and ready for where life may take you.  This scary because it requires surrender. Surrender of imagined power over outcomes and people. You have to even let go of your current view of yourself. Sometimes our perspective of ourselves are the biggest thing holding us back from who we can become. Let go of what you know and see what could be. Americans like to say they are open but in reality, we tend to be more myopic about many things versus our global counterparts. Start looking for opportunities to be open - with our kids, our co-workers and (GULP) our spouses. Openness does come naturally to some and to many it leads to discomfort and we tackle that next.

Be Uncomfortable
Yes, embrace discomfort. You know that feeling you get when you are listening to someone from an opposing view expound on their reason for thinking the way they do? It's a sickening "want to retreat immediately" sort of feeling - embrace that and see what happens. That is the same feeling you get when you want to push the envelope on an idea at work or with your partner. If you don't practice it, you'll never do it. In politics, it's insignificant - temporary, no better place to practice embracing discomfort. If you can withstand feeling uncomfortable for a few minutes on a Facebook string with a friend - you will build that muscle for other areas of life where you need it. And you need push through discomfort to do just about anything good in life. What you want in life is really on the other side of the fear in front of you.

Try on these two ideas as you go through the world "looking for" answers. Being open and being uncomfortable will surely clarify your thought process on life. I would not expect this to change your point of view drastically but it will certainly broaden it. Half the battle is understanding that what we know is merely a product of what we look for... And if we can re-think what we look for, who knows what we will find?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Zingers, Talking Points, Common Sense: The Complex Relationship America Has With Politics

Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama after their debate in Denver 10/03/12

I watched the first 2012 Presidential Debate from the comfort of my home without interacting on social media channels on purpose.  I quickly studied my Facebook news feed last night and looked at Twitter and a few websites today to see where everyone's head was on the debate.

It is unanimous - Romney won. Even die hard Obama supporters agree that Governor Mitt Romney performed well and exceeded the expectations of nearly everyone.

Noted.

So why did I entitle this blog the way I did? Precisely today?

Because based on what I saw in my unscientific review - America's undecided voters will once again decide the fate of the next Presidential election.

We are polarized folks - painstakingly so.  Look at your own streams - Romney supporters are giddy- "Romney keeping his pimp hand strong" and Obama supporters sullen - "he needs to stop being Mr. Nice Guy" was what I saw yet not much had changed.

People went into the debate already decided. Except those undecided folks.

It's back to common sense. I blogged on it earlier this week and President Obama attempted to zing Gov. Romney with it in the debate - common sense? Not so common. And based on each individuals experience and frame of reference. Common sense to Obama supporters looks very different from common sense to Romney supporters.

Try as I might - I saw that debate last night from my own lens which is pretty decided for Decision 2012. And while I have a cornucopia of opinions on my stream - they were all pretty much the same. People who support Governor Romney still support him. President Obama supporter, sad but hanging in there with him. There are no undecideds in my crowd.  Nor did I see anyone open to hearing or understanding the other side any more than they were before the debate.

Each battle of words between those two men last night reinforced what you already believe or thought you knew about them. Your own mental talking points were reinforced and strengthened by the interaction that the world was watching between Obama and Romney. Their attempts to have a conversation with the American people as they both have claimed were their goals was really a conversation with the people who have not decided. Neither did much to lure or educate dissenters from either side.

And I'm not sure I feel good about that.

Our "common sense" told us what we wanted to hear last night. And that, my friends solidifies why this election more than any other in US history will be decided by the undecided.

I don't know about you but I'm hoping my common sense wins this November

Monday, October 1, 2012

The REAL Reason Common Sense Is Not So Common


Dictionary defines common sense as:
     
sound or prudent judgement based on a simple perception of the situation or facts


I started this post with the definition of common sense intentionally. To level set before I make the case that common sense is not dying or somehow slipping away from us. Almost every day, I see, hear or read something referring to the "fact" that we've lost common sense in today's society; that somehow common sense was here before and has gotten up and left us.

Until recently, you may have heard that mistaken perception come out of my own mouth. It seems with age, wisdom and experiences comes also the mistaken thought pattern that what is happening around us today is worse that what it was before and so today's people have somehow have lost what people before us surely had, common sense. Further, we all perceive ourselves as having common sense while those around us all seem to be floundering without it.

I'm here to tell you that there is nothing common about common sense. Each of us has our own interpretation of what common sense is to us based on our unique life experiences and information. Roaming the planet the last almost 41 years and especially being coupled the last 12 of them has convinced me that this is the number one breakdown within relationships between humans. The idea that those around us have to see and perceive things as we do or they are less wise, less able and therefore lack common sense.

That line of thinking is short sighted and more importantly - it is flat out wrong.

The definition really gives it all away - the little phrase "simple perception," kills the notion that common sense actually exists as we often define it.

What is wacky to you may be perfectly normal to me.
What is offensive to me may be perfectly appropriate to you.
What is fact to you may not be fact to me - simply because our life experiences dictate otherwise.

Clearly, there are some areas that are not so fuzzy but I won't even list them here because it is likely there will be some that disagree with my list. That is the beauty and the curse of this notion of common sense.

There are as many variations of common sense on the planet as there are variations of humans. So the next time you want to accuse someone of not using common sense, think about this post and how what they are using what may be common sense to them.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Few Words To Describe My Favorite Season

Love this time of year

Ahhhhhhhh the crisp air of fall is finally here.

Transitioning to chilly days and cozy nights is my absolute favorite time of year. My relationship with Fall is solid. You never see me procrastinating to pull out the sweaters or prepare the house for winter.

The time for reflecting on the year and gearing up for a strong finish does not escape me.


Fall is my time for harvest. All the great ideas and plans that were laid early in the year start to crystallize or disintegrate now and I'm perfectly fine with that. It is a time to pick up the pace or slow it down - depending on the trajectory of the project.

Now is a time to Act,  Learn,  Repeat - quickly to understand how to plan the next year.

Fall also represents another year passing by with my late fall birthday... while the rest of the world reflects during or after the holidays. I'm usually done reflecting by Thanksgiving.

I challenge you all to look at the change around you over the next few weeks and decide on what change you will impart on your life.

How will you end this year?

What goals/objectives should be taken with you into the next year?

What must you abandon to grow?

Get to it - winter will be here before you know it!

Monday, September 17, 2012

3 Tactics For Dealing In Broken Glass

Worth mending? I think not - a new glass would be better

Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it’s better to leave them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together. ~ Unknown

One week ago I posted this quote. Without question, the best quote I posted all last week if you measure by visible interactions - number of comments and likes. It was universally well received because everyone can related to a relationship in their life like this.

A sister.

A friend.

An ex.

A co-worker

An acquaintance 

Doesn't matter who it is or who you are - you can relate to the very true statement in that quote. These types of relationships are also referred to as toxic. We all have THAT relationship that just is better off broken.  However for some of us, those of us who consider themselves  self-aware and healthy emotionally speaking - this is an extremely tough thought.  People like me who start over every day.

I believe in the gift that is a new day. Every day I look at life as a new opportunity. I even tweet/post every Sunday morning a "New day, new week = New mercies, new opportunities" thought for the upcoming week.

When you live like that, you believe in giving yourself a new chance so that extends to those in your life. And that is the rub.

Many people do not deserve another chance with you. It's harsh but true.

Many people don't really want another chance with you. That's why they hurt you repeatedly.

Many people don't love themselves. So they can't possibly love you.

So what do you do with those people? If you are indeed forced into contact or are related to them and expected to have contact in some way/shape or form.  Here are the three things I do with broken relationships:

Small doses.

Little to no real time investment is ever spent on relationships that I consider broken. I am considerate when we are going to be in the same functions but do not go out of my way to see or spend time with these people. Be yourself always, just in small doses. For me that means remembering their birthdays because that's who I am. No need to buy crazy gifts but sending a card and calling even though it may be painful and you don't know what you will get - you will feel better if that is part of who you are. Don't allow someone else to cause you to lose who you are with them. Just keep it in manageable doses.

Keep contact short and simple.

When forced into contact, I keep it very light. No deep probing questions, nor do I share deep or personal details about me. Think the Christmas card update if you do or receive those. Very 30,000 ft in nature.  This can be difficult because toxic people usually don't have many boundaries and will absolutely divulge lots of information not appropriate for your relationship. Listen when forced and offer little to no advice. They don't really want it and especially not from you. Be courteous and be brief.

Always be honest with them and yourself

The toughest but best policy. Many times when you realize a relationship is toxic you think you have to avoid or be dishonest with how you truly feel about them and the state of your relations with them. No way. The very few toxic relationships I'm forced to have, have their annual "volcano moment." The moment when the toxic person confronts you for your aloofness towards them and wants it to be better but does not know how to do it. You offer some suggestions and point out exactly why things are the way they are but do not put any hope in long term change. Toxic is toxic for a reason. You love these people and want the best for them and right now (and most likely always) that means telling them the truth and keeping them a safe distance away.

This is not easy and by no means is it pain-free. I just had a volcano moment in the most toxic relationship in my life. I am literally still shaken from the deep hurt I experience with each contact I have but I am at peace.

I do my best and am ready to have a normal relationship with this person whenever they are. That's the problem with optimist like me. But the realist in me keeps me sane which is why I'm also prepared to follow my three steps for the rest of our time on earth together.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Why A Sensible Person (Like Me) Would Choose A Side Politically

We really only have a few choices politically speaking in the United States

Now that both the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention are over, we are really in the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign. It's almost over. Like most of you, I will be glad when it's November 7 and not just because my birthday is coming.

I'll be glad because, as a nation, we will have to "kiss and make up." We will have to put our partisan talk aside and reunite to go about the business of running the country, together. Warts and all.

It occurred to me the past few weeks just how divided and cynical we have become as a nation. It begs the question that many ask and few answer - Do I have to choose a side?

How many Facebook posts have you seen about the lesser of two evils? How many folks have you seen declare they are not voting at all?

Because of this I was compelled to write about the three reasons a sensible person would choose a side politically - even in all the turmoil we see that is politics today.

No Decision Is A Decision

When we don't decide something - a decision is made for us. On our behalf. I remember the first time I heard that. It was in high school when I was stubbornly trying to stonewall something related to the student newspaper where I served as the editor-in-chief. Our advisor said to me - "To not decide is a decision, Denise" Even though I did not grasp its power at the time, that is a very powerful statement and it plays out every day in American local politics. Whether or not you vote, people are elected to office. Whether or not you participate, decisions are being made for you by those same people you did not elect.

No Party or Candidate Will Have "It" For Every Person

Can I get an AMEN for that? Really, have you ever seen a political candidate that encompasses everything you believe in or stand for? Present company included? I am an elected local municipal official and I am certain that there is something about me that would turn someone else off. That is normal and by the way, human. Only robots can be programmed to meet our needs 100% And I sure as heck don't want robots doing the job because then the humans behind the robots are in control. See how that works? We have to make a choice that is most closely aligned with our beliefs and desires for our country moving forward. I have said it before - both sides of the political aisle should spend more time talking about what we all want because THAT is where we can have a conversation - not the "how we get it". We have fiercely different paths to get to where we want to be a country but it seems like the best way to get there is to start with... there. Future post on what "there" looks like next week.

Not Lazy

When you peel back the layers - it all comes down to laziness on the part of most Americans in this  area. We are apathetic about politics as a general rule. We have our allegiances and don't want to investigate anything further. Well, I am not lazy. I will not stand back and let someone else decide for me - not even the party I am most closely affiliated with. If we don't have a viable candidate for an office - I HAVE to consider who's on the ballot and vote. Period. End of Story. Same goes for you. Your parents have an affiliation? Great - good for them - now grow up and read and make your own decision. Your church is telling you who to vote for? Shame on that church - they should just be advising you to pray for the process and get involved without telling you WHO to vote for. Pick up a newspaper. Read a book. Investigate online. Get as many perspectives as you can and THEN make a choice.

It is not simple nor is it something to take lightly. We live in a country that sets the standard for freedom and expression. The best way to express yourself as an American is to get involved in the process of governing our country. Voting is the gateway to that. For that reason I have voted in EVERY election I've been eligible to vote in since I was 18 years old. I've voted red and blue. Always siding with a specific candidate versus a whole party slate. But you can't do that without getting yourself informed.

I've made a choice and I urge each of you to do the same.

There's only 8 weeks to do so.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Finally A Runner

Channeling my inner FloJo
It's been a great long holiday weekend.

I ran the Sunset 5K for the second time and recorded my personal best time of 38:58.8. For the past year as I've run other races and trained intermittenly but had not seen myself as a runner until that evening.

It's not about the time.

It's not about how fast you run.

It's not about the equipment.

It's not about how others see you.

It's all about how you see yourself. And I finally see myself as a runner.

It all happened within a brief exchange at the registration table. As I checked in, the woman at the table said something to me about doing well as she got my packet. Another woman next to me looked up and said she recognized me running in the neighborhood and that she saw me at another race earlier this year and before I could blurt out my normal self-depreciating comment about not being a "real runner" or being super slow.

I didn't.

I simply replied - "yes, that's me. I'm not very good but I do run"

And just like that I am a runner. I finally see myself as a runner. Albeit a slow, quirky and heavy one but a runner nonetheless. 

How many times do we sell ourselves short of who we really are?

How many times do we compare ourselves to others? our journey to that of other people?

We must embrace our own walk.

We must accept ourselves.

I am certain that until that moment, every time I denied that I was a runner or somehow diminished the fact that I was running regularly -  it was because I had a picture of what a runner looks like in my mind and I ain't it.

I thought a runner was someone who loved to run.

I thought a runner would be running more races by now.

I thought a runner would have progressed beyond 38:58 in a timed race.

I thought a runner would have a desire to run more than a 5K.

Until then, I thought of anyone else besides me to be a runner.  I've been a runner pretty much since I completed the Couch-To-5K program last summer but only truly accepted it Friday night before my race. I smile reflecting on it now.

Guys,  this realization is huge. Perhaps there are some other areas of my life I need to "wake up" to...

Best selling author?

Accomplished strategic business consultant?

I don't know but I intend to be more aware from now on.

What about you?

What do YOU need to wake up to and acknowledge to make it so?


Monday, August 20, 2012

Who Is Your Jurgen Klinsmann?

US National Team Coach Jurgen Klinsmann believed in his team like no one else and thus they believed

Last Wednesday, without much fanfare, the US Men's National Team made history.

This young team became only the 9th team in the 46 year history of the stadium to post a win against the Mexican National team following powerhouses like Italy, Spain and Brazil. With it's notorious noise and high altitude conditions - Estadio Azteca is the ultimate home field advantage. It did not go without note in all the press leading up to the "friendly" match between CONCACAF's fiercest rivals. Every mention of the game was punctuated with the fact that the Americans had never beat Mexico in this stadium - coming into the match last week with an abysmal record of 0-23-1.

Until now.

What was the difference?

For me it was a simple concept of faith. Specifically, Coach Jurgen Klinsmann's faith in his team.

Dictionary.com defines faith as this:

          1. confidence or trust in a person or thing
          2. belief that is not based on proof

I watched closely as every reporter brought up the fact that the US Men's Team had never won a match in Azteca. Klinsmann never flinched in his faith in his team's ability to ignore that fact and play their best with the intention of coming away from that match with the result of a W. In one of the final interviews, Klinsmann did not mince words when he stated that he believed his team could beat Mexico in Estadio Azteca.

I've been a part of the US Soccer family since the early 90s when I started my career there in PR/marketing. Never before have I heard a US coach speak so convincingly of his faith in the team to do something. He demonstrated such solid belief that it became impossible for any other result from that team, that night. I believe that Jurgen actually believed in the team more than they believed in themselves going in and then they rose to the occasion to make history.

So I ask... who is your Jurgen Klinsmann?

Who in your life sees what could be and pushes you towards it?

Who do you know has the courage of conviction to speak big things on your life?

Who is that person in your life that believes in you, perhaps even more than you believe in yourself?

I am blessed, I have a handful of these folks in my stable of great people. They are critical to my success personally and professionally.

There is a woman who sees me as the grand wife I could be and constantly pushes me towards that. Or there is the lifelong friend who sees my greatness as a mom and encourages it. Then there is the "great business mind" friend and confidant who sees my entrepreneurial potential and does not allow me to default in fear.  Each one pushes me beyond where I am today. Each sees a few steps ahead of my current circumstance and gives me the "kick" I need to get there. Sometimes, I struggle to see beyond where I am at the moment but I am so glad I have people around me who see it before I do.

I implore you to seek out the "Jurgen Klinsmanns" in your life. They can be close friends or even loose connections. I'm thinking of the college friend on Facebook who micro-mentored me to writing my first book earlier this year. He saw that I could do it even before I did and in an effort to not let him down - I did it. I finished my first book and will be publishing it in a few weeks.

We all need people in our lives to push us to places we'd never go on our own. We need people to state that they believe in us even when there is no "proof" of what they believe. Lots of times, these folks are in our lives already but we don't recognize or open ourselves up to them. I challenge you to do it today.

Who knows the history you will make when you do.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rules of Engagement For Decision 2012

I will do better this political season
13 weeks. 91 days. Lots of hours, minutes and seconds until Election Day 2012.

Now that the "official" teams are set, it is really on.

You can feel it in the air. 

But I am taking a pledge this election season and I am hoping many join me...

I pledge to do the following starting now until Election night 2012:

1.  Respect people voting for folks I'm not voting for.
2.  Ignore political propaganda that name calls.
3.  Engage in discussions civilly or not at all.

In today's blasting/broadcasting/posting your every move, these three actions can prove tricky but I will stick to them. Here's a bit more detail on how I will do that.

Respect people voting for folks I'm not voting for

You've all felt it. That moment when Facebook lets you know that someone you like a lot has "liked" a page you'd never look at. It stings. C'mon admit it. What's the first thing that goes through your mind?

"I thought I knew FILL-IN-THE-BLANK"

Well I'm here to say that you do know FILL-IN-THE-BLANK, you just have a different view on how to achieve what we all want in our country. It's not the end of the world or your friendship. In the last three days, I've seen that many times and with each sting - I say out loud, it's OK. Now I know what I will see in the coming weeks on their page and I have the option to keep it there and get irritated everytime I see it or I can hide them for the next 90 days.

I will most definitely not be going on their wall to post my views. And I expect the same courtesy from them.

Ignore political propaganda that name calls

This will be, by far, the hardest of all the actions but I will stick by it. I will read carefully each article and  will be ultra selective on which ones I post or spread.

In my humble opinion, we should do away with the labels "Conservative" or "Liberal." Labels and absolutes are made for inanimate objects, not people. People have opinions that change over time and evolve. Look at most politicians - it's really impossible to be completely one side or the other.

So this season, you won't find any negative political ads on my wall or in my stream. I plan to actively seek information sources that stick to the positives of the candidate that I am supporting versus tearing down the candidate I am not. I will change the channel if an ad comes on and goes immediately dark - we all know what those ads look like. And I am opting out this year.

Engage in discussions civilly or not at all.

Perhaps the easiest of the three for me. I have already stated that I will not "troll" pages/blogs/comment strings of folks I know think differently looking for opportunities to pounce them with my "truths."

I will also not engage people who do that to me or my strings. I will politely ignore any goadings to argue or "defend" my candidate. I understand the issues and am not undecided so there is no need for me to "explore" or feel the urge to "educate" others.

When asked, I may choose explain my position without name calling or anger. I will use many smiley faces in text over the next few months. I will also look for opportunities have face-to-face discussions versus cyber ones. It is easier to exercise self control when a person in the flesh is standing in front of you versus a high resolution screen. Further, I will just do the polite thing and not talk politics at all. If I hear a conversation brewing near me that is going in a direction I don't want to go, I'll simply walk the other way and get another snack, remembering again that I don't HAVE to share my views.

That's what I'm planning to do the next few months -

Who's with me?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How Often Do You Fill Your Leadership Cup?

Anyone who leads anything has a leadership cup. Be it your family, your team at work, the small group at your church or the group of gals you coffee with each morning at the coffee house - you lead in some way, shape or form.

From a pure logic standpoint, your capacity to lead is likened to a cup. You can only pour out what you have inside. Once the cup is empty, it's pretty tough to keep going, effectively.

Today's question is designed to challenge you to fill your cup. For me it is a no brainer. And it's that time of year again.

Every August since 2006, I refill my leadership cup at the annual Global Leadership Summit put on by the Willowcreek Association. It is two full days packed with lots of teachings, interactions and activities designed to strengthen me as a leader. I cannot imagine my year without it. It is not the only leadership cup fill I get every year but it is the most significant. It is a signal to all around me that my personal development is a priority. No calls, no meetings, very little email interaction - 100% focus on growing my leadership capabilities. GLS 2012 is a special year as it marks the first year I'm attending the GLS as my own boss.

It was at my third GLS that the possibility of owning my own business even became a major thought. I've said many times and I highlight it again in my upcoming book, I am an unlikely entrepreneur from a long history of family members who are good at working for others. However, my commitment to growing and filling my leadership cup every year in an intense and intentional way led me to my current place. In between summits, I read voraciously - blogs, books, articles to help me grow. I also speak at and attend several other conferences. I interact regularly with other committed growing leaders. Lots of tactics and lots of time invested in filling my leadership cup.

I find that keeping my cup full increases my capacity to extend myself to those I lead. I cannot function well as a leader without my cup full.  Everyone is different. For me, full = ready. Ready to lead. Ready to jump on opportunities. Ready to be more compassionate to those around me. Ready to do what I was designed to do - revolutionize relationships on planet Earth.

What about you?

How often do you fill your leadership cup?

What are your tactics for keeping it full?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Don't Stunt Your Olympic Opportunity

I have always loved the Olympics!

I can remember as a third grader in Mrs. Irvine's class at Carl Sandburg Elementary School, writing what my goal was for the future; to work at the Olympic Games.

Amazing.

Even at the tender age of 8, I was not already active in nor in love with any particular sport but very tuned in to opportunity. I knew that besides the athletes, there were really important people needed to pull the games off. After that, I did participate in several sports and was a very competitive tennis player through college. However, I never had a desire to be an Olympic athlete. I was married to my third grade dream of working there.

In 1996, at the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta - I fulfilled that 3rd grade declaration and worked as an venue media coordinator at the Georgia World Congress Center where we hosted 8 sports. It was an awesome experience that I will never forget. Ever.

But I can't help but reflect on the power of my words over my own life at such a young age. Before I'd ever played any sports seriously, I'd counted myself out of one of the most prestigious sports events.

I can even remember hearing my own words echo in my ears as I lost big tennis matches over the years. I remember when I was in high school in 1988 and tennis was reinstated as an Olympic sport. That was the height of my tennis career. I played year round in tournaments and was briefly ranked in the Midwest as a junior tennis player. I was courted by colleges to play and spent almost every weekend in 1988 playing tennis. Yet I never manifested a desire to play in the Olympics. Not even that announcement from the IOC motivated me to change my declaration of working at the Olympics as an 8 year old.

Do you see the power of what we speak over our lives? How many times do we say stuff, innocently, that could be closing off opportunity in our lives? Clearly as a 3rd grader, I had no idea what my future held but my little proclamation did hold true.  Who knows? Perhaps I could have been an Olympic athlete. Now it does not matter but what does matter is what I say and put out in the universe regarding my life. My future.

I only speak success about my upcoming book release or the opportunities my company bids for or pitches. I speak positivity about my kids and their dealings. I speak love and harmony over my marriage and my husband.

Make sure you, too, harness the power of your own words over your life.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Use All Your Tools, Get Your Bunny!


One of the most intriguing phenomenons of owning a dachshund over the last 6 months has been observing her keen natural ability to hunt. Chica is always on the hunt. And watching her hunt lately has really brought to mind a key thought  - she hunts with all her might but only uses one sense - her sense of smell. How many of us go through life just like Chica?

She is so focused and intent on getting the bunny rabbit by sniffing him/her out that she often misses the fact that he/she is sitting right in front of her in the bush - just mere feet away.

We've even led her directly to a bunny in a bush and she still puts her nose down intent on finding the bunny her way. Other times, we give in to her whimpers and open the door for her to just flat out chase the bunny she sees.

The other day I decided to hunt out a bunny from my perspective and found one sniffing around in a bush - let Chica go and she spun in circles around the bush while the bunny panted inside undetected. Finally Chica tired of the sniff circles and turned her back a split second and off the bunny went.

This dog has not caught a bunny. Does this story sound familiar?

She is using only what she believes is her best chance to catch the bunny, her sense of smell. She never uses her eyes nor does she detect the rustling in the bush as well as she could because her head is down to the ground, sniffing for a way to get the elusive bunny.

She does not understand when we,  her owners try and LEAD her to the bunny in the bush or when we point to the area where the bunny is and try to lift her head.

She is eternally frustrated because she knows she's close but what she wants is just outside her reach - outside her comfort zone of sniffing.

I am convinced that she will only catch a bunny when she deploys all her tools toward the job. When she sniffs, looks and listens - I think she'll have a chance. But Chica is a dachshund and as much as it hurts to see her so frustrated, I know her dog psyche allows her to forget this morning's disappointment of not catching the bunny. She's OK.

But what about people who employ the same tactics to their lives? Using only what they think is the best tool, not exploring others? Not allowing themselves to even be guided to their possibilities? Focused but yet not successful?

Look at your life and think about the life you want. Does your current set of tools help you get there? What new tools can you employ to get you closer?

Don't be Chica. Use all your tools and get your bunny.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Wake UP Washington! Follow Senator's McCain's Lead

It was not 90 days ago that I opined that I wanted a new relationship with my politicians. I continue to feel that way. Our political climate is at an all-time low in terms of respect, class and responsibility. People spew commentaries filled with hate, fear inducing language and out right lies. Personal attacks with no regard for issues but out and out character assassinations without valid proof of wrong doing.

It must stop.

Kudo to Senator John McCain for saying so on the Senate Floor in no uncertain terms. I have always liked and respected Senator McCain. Truth be told - I think he - not George W. Bush should have been the Republican nominee in 2000. He caused me to vote in my first (and only) Republican primary then. Alas, it was not meant to be.  But the same reason I liked him then makes me like him now.

Good ole common sense. He is not the brightest nor the most prestigious individual but he uses common sense the way everyone else in Washington should.

We must stop the nonsense.

We must get back to discussing issues without resorting to name calling or hate.

We must ignite the American people to get into the conversation, not scare them.

We must demand that our elected official condemn the craziness like Sen. McCain did and hold them accountable at the polls if they do not.

We must make the consequences for this behavior so severe that politicos think twice before engaging in it.

I ask again - WHO IS WITH ME?

Here is Senator McCain's address in case you haven't seen it:




Monday, July 16, 2012

Disappointment & I Are NOT Friends

Last week, here in Chicago there was a press storm on the current whereabouts of our Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. who is on an unexplained medical leave for the past 6 weeks. As the storm just grew and grew, family and friends asked for privacy and I was willing to give it. That's a reasonable request and one I am willing to respect. However, something I am not going to leave untouched is the commentary from his mom, Jacqueline Jackson at an event last week in defense of her son, the elected public official who is in a contest to keep his seat at the moment.

"I’m not ashamed to say he thought he was going to be a senator. He thought he was going to have a chance to run for mayor. And young people don’t bounce back from disappointment like me and my husband," she told the Chicago crowd.

I was stunned by her comment. Stunned, annoyed, offended and a whole long list of other words. My quick reply to her is this - you've done your son a disservice and next time, just stay out of it. Here's why...

We are all responsible for our relationship with disappointment in our lives. We can't just pack up and hide away and not answer questions as the young congressman has done - because we have jobs, families and others to answer to. It is even more egregious his method for "dealing" with his disappointment as folks have trusted him with their votes for many years now.

Disappointment stems from our reality not living up to our expectations. Disappointment is inevitable. Who doesn't dream big or strive for big accomplishments that sometimes elude us? For overachievers like myself, disappointment is a companion but one we often don't hang with on a regular basis and here are the three reasons why.

We balance our expectations with a dose of reality juice.

We live an existence of relentless perseverance.

We relinquish outcomes outside our direct control.

I absolutely get disappointed but I don't engage in self-destructive behavior nor do I dodge my responsibilities to wallow in my disappointment.  Each time disappointment comes - I greet it with  open arms - give it a big long hug which consists of me dissecting where my expectations could have been tweaked to fit the reality that set it in. I also sit with disappointment long enough to ascertain if, in fact, my expectation was unfounded by my own lack of effort or was it (as it is in many cases) just not my time.  We usually spend less than 48 hours together because my personality really works toward resolution and has a tough time resting with something (or someone) that is not contributing positively to my growth. 2 days of not growing is a non-stopper for me.

The best relationship to have with disappointment is one of acknowledgement and resolve to move forward. We cannot entertain disappointment for very long periods of time because then he brings his cousin, despair to the party. And from there, it all gets worse.

There is no way to prevent disappointment but you can manage it and its place in your life.

What do you do to deal with disappointment?

Monday, July 9, 2012

What Is The Chasm Between The Life You Have and The Life You Want?

We own the way our lives "go."

Really.

No one else controls that.

I recently had some time away from work visiting family out of the country. During my time away, I had lots of time to reflect on the cycles we all have in our lives.

For some people, their lives look the same as it did last year and the year before that. For others, their lives look different but still don't look the way they want them to look.

Generally speaking, life is cyclical. However, the way those cycles come and go has everything to do with the following factors:

The Way One Thinks

The Way One Acts

The Way One Bounces or Splats

We have choices.  Our thinking feeds our actions. If we think that what we want in life is "unreasonable" or "out of our reach", then our actions will lead us to confirm those thoughts. If we feel our situation is hopeless, then we will act out of hopelessness and never move to a place of hopefulness. If we don't believe we have what it takes, we'll never act as though we do. And so we'll be in our cycle that never ends until we think and act differently.

Conversely, if we believe (even a little bit) in the possibility of something, we created a path for action towards it. If we think our situation can be better, we will open our minds to actions for making it so.

Finally, the way we respond to adversity also has a profound effect on our lives - do we bounce or splat? Folks that bounce, get up. They don't stay down long and depending on how much adversity they've faced, they keep moving just like a ball that hits pavement.  People that bounce often astonish themselves at how high they can bounce after their fall.

Equally, folks that splat have a hard time getting up, if they ever do. Many people that splat stay there in the spot where "it" happened. Often, without professional help, people who splat never recover from their adverse times and they are stuck in their adversity for their entire lives.

Such is the relationship between the life we have and the life we want.

Where are you in this journey? Are you living the life you want to live?

You can - starting today.

Examine your thoughts and how they feed your actions.

Look at and adjust the way you respond to adversity and disappointment.

Once you start this journey, you will not turn back. And you will be on the path to the life you desire versus the life you have.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Got Excellence?


Composure

Creativity

Knowledge

Those are a few of the many things I plan to "put on" this very important week in my life.  As I prepared for this week, it occurred to me that the experience I want to have this week is not unique to this week.  Whether or not I have a meeting on Park Avenue, I want to experience fulfillment, triumph and peace.

What can I do to bring that about in my life regardless the circumstance?

Reflection and Refocus.

I can reflect on what I want to experience and refocus my energy to manifest it. My relationship with excellence is healthy and vibrant. I have found a way to bring my "A" game to my daily life and it is paying dividends. Yes I am so stoked for my big days but they are really not that different from my every day.

Your "A" game is not just reserved for big meetings or significant family events. Whatever it is that you want to experience on the most important days, can be harnessed and manifested every day.

Now I get how that sounds and you may be asking - if you use your "A" game everyday, then what do you pull out for the huge events? Your "A"game.

Excellence is not something that can be dusted off and used "as necessary." In my experience, your best game is the one you practice often. So if you need your "A" game for that big meeting next month on Park Avenue - you'd better start using it today.

Bring your "A" game to the soccer field when you take your kids for their games.

Bring your "A" game to the weekly status call.

Bring your "A" game to your morning greeting with your spouse or significant other.

Bring your "A" game to the next conversation with your parents.

Excellence must be practiced on the regular or it will not show up when you "need" it.

What is your relationship with excellence? How can you make it better?


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Are Your Working On Your Top 5?


More and more lately, I have been reminded of the importance of doing the best you can with this one life we are blessed to live. Having hit the milestone of 40 years old last year really accelerated my thoughts around my top 5 goals for my life. It's one thing to identify the top 5 goals  - another to actually live in the reality of them.

Where do you fall? Do you even have a "top 5"?

Sometime last year I read a blog post about this and listed the following as My Top 5 Goals For My Life:

1. Live my faith everyday
2. Have a growing vibrant relationship with my husband, Isael
3. Raise two world changing individuals (Emma and Evan)
4. Revolutionize relationships on planet Earth - one at a time (making money as I go)
5. Enjoy my life fully!

A few quick words about goals and I'll set you off to set your own...

Goals need to be measurable

All my goals have specific metrics around them. Metrics for quality and quantity. Yep, even the fluffy ones. Periodically, I review these goals and look at specific measurements to see if I am tracking or falling down.

Goals need accountability

These goals are written on the blog that I first read them on a year ago. They are seared in my mind and again here for accountability. You can do something if you don't name it, speak it - proclaim it. I've shared these goals with folks on my Personal Board of Directors so I can have their feedback and input on how I'm doing.

Goals need to be flexible

There is at least one of these goals that will not stay on the list forever. We need to be open to how our lives change and how goals we set for them may have to change as well. Now, this is not to give us an excuse to chuck a goal when it gets hard - it's more to give ourselves the freedom to evolve our goals to our circumstances when absolutely necessary.

I am in good shape on my top 5 and number 5 can be the most difficult at times. Like in April when a major project driving the majority of my company's income fell apart. Pretty tough to "enjoy" that kind of stuff. But I've learned how. I've learned how to take what life dishes and find a silver lining - the extra time I was afforded by that project's disappearance allowed me to complete my first book and accelerate a project that otherwise would have languished in my stable. And this is not just my "hindsight" view - this was my real time view. Did I mourn the loss? You bet. I mourned it by channeling the hurt, anger and confusion into churning out my book and generating more from what I had. It's all about your perspective.

So.... today I challenge you to create a Top 5 Goals for your life list and get to work on it immediately.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Love Your Loved Ones

My college neighbor & her beloved husband, Khaldun Everage - RIP Khal

Last week, I was reminded in a real way to not take folks for granted.

My friend lost her husband of 14 years suddenly less than a week before his 42nd birthday. I can still barely type or speak of it without great sorrow. Both Khal and Dina are huge heroes to their families, friends and the community they have dedicated their lives to. One of the remarkable things about Khal was his undeterred love of his family and his greater family - the children served by Chicago Public Schools.

In celebration of Khaldun Everage - today on what would have been his 42nd birthday - I want to ask everyone to stop what you are doing and reach out to someone you love.

You are not promised tomorrow and neither are they.

It's hard to hear this but Khaldun served his purpose on Earth and was called home to glory. I am thankful to have had a miniscule part in his great life. I look forward to keeping his memory alive. Look at what he posted exactly 1 month before he departed this life:

Dream. Believe. Inspire. Dream - but you gotta dream big. If you don't, what's the point. Believe - in our children. There are enough people out here who don't. Inspire - our children to reach their goals. Dreaming & Believing are fruitless without inspiration.  - Khaldun Everage, May 6, 2012

Rest in peace, Khal and thank you for your inspiration.