Category Archives: courage

SerenDestiny #71: It’s About TIME

It's about TIME!

“The secret of life … is to enjoy the passage of time.” – James Taylor

My friends and I are in Newport Beach for our semi-annual strategic master-mind.

We were walking back on Ocean Blvd. from our morning beach walk and window-shopping.

The above display in a high-end furniture store stopped us in our tracks.

YIKES.

How would you like to sleep in a room that had this HUGE clock looming over you?

It just felt … wrong.

Yet, in a way, that’s how many of us feel every day.

TIME, in capital letters, looms over our every waking moment.

We rush through our days, watching the clock, ever aware of appointments, deadlines, schedules, agendas, checklists.

The faster we go, the behinder we get.

We hurry here, there, everywhere.

Too much to do. Can’t be late. Have a very important date.

For many of us, time runs and ruins our life.

The multi-faceted consequences of this constant time pressure was never more evident than in what happened to a friend of mine.

Sue is a high-level negotiator who mediates contracts between multi-million dollar organizations.

She was doing a rare team-teaching and went to bed early the night before the program so she’d be ready for the big day.

Her team teacher called around 9 pm and Sue’s daughter picked up the phone.

“Can I talk to Sue please? I’ve got some questions about our presentation tomorrow.”

“Actually, my mom went to bed early. She wasn’t feeling well.”

Instead of getting the hint, the team teacher said, “I really need to speak to her.”

Sue’s daughter came back with, “I don’t want to wake her. She needs the sleep.”

Instead of backing down, the team teacher persisted. (She later said it wasn’t like her to insist on talking to someone when diplomatically being told “no” – but somehow she knew this was important.)

Sue’s daughter relented. She went to wake up her mom and discovered she was in a … coma. Sue had had an adverse reaction to a new medication and was unconscious.

Thankfully, Sue’s daughter immediately sprung into action. She called 911 and an ambulance was there in minutes. The EMT’s began emergency procedures to revive Sue on the way to the hospital.

In the middle of all this, Sue was having the out-of-body experience you may have heard about from other people who have “died” and come back.

Sue was “above it all” watching the medical team try to revive her.

Sue experienced the bright light that exuded an all-encompassing love, peace and serenity that transcended description.

She saw her loved ones that had already passed … on the other side of a body of water.

She was given a choice. She could join her loved ones on the other side of the water… or she could come back and take care of her daughter.

Sue chose to come back and take care of her daughter.

When Sue was telling our small group this story over dinner, she said one of the enduring memories of that experience was the ludicrousness of time.

She said, looking back on earth, we all look like ants, frantically rushing to and fro.

Busy, busy, busy. Anxious. Up tight. Angry. Tense. Impatient. Always behind. Always frustrated.

She said, “From that perspective, you see the futility of it all. The silliness of it all. The senselessness of it all. You want to take it back. You want a do-over.

Like Emily in Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town, you just want to go back and take it all in and be in a state of wonder at the bliss, beauty and blessedness of a normal day.

You long for a second chance to enjoy the passage of time instead of obsess over it.”

The good news is, we have a second chance for a do-over … right here, right now.

We can look around and appreciate all we already have instead of operating with the underlying feeling there’s never enough time, we’re always behind, we’ll never get caught up, we’ll never get it all done.

We can integrate James Taylor’s wise words and enjoy the passage of time, appreciate having time.

It really is the secret of life.

SerenDestiny #67: People Can’t Jump on your Bandwagon – If It’s Parked in the Garage

bandwagon_sized

“If you don’t go, you’ll never know.” – Robert De Niro

Many of us operate with the opposite of Robert De Niro’s insight.

If we don’t know; we don’t go.

The problem with that?

By definition, with any new venture, we DON’T KNOW what we’re doing.

If we use “knowing what we’re doing” as a prerequisite for moving forward … we never move forward.

Yikes.

That’s where GTS comes in.

What’s GTS?

Let me explain.

A year after my son Andrew graduated from VA Tech with a business degree, we were having dinner.

Andrew had “lucked out” and found a job as an executive recruiter. He was the envy of his college buddies because he was working in a classy downtown building, making good money and working for a respected, well-connected industry icon who was arranging for him to do neat things like work at events with President Obama and Tony Bennett. Not the normal career trajectory.

Yet, as I looked into Andrew’s eyes that night, there was no spark.

In fact, he used a word I’d never heard him use before. Exhausted.

I asked, “So, are you going down to VA Tech this weekend to see the game?”

“Nah. By the time I’d drive down there, I’d only have a few hours and then I’d have to turn around and come back. I just don’t have the energy. I’m exhausted.”

Exhausted?!? How could that be? How was it that this formerly energetic 20-something was burned out?

I asked, “Andrew, what’s up?”

He said, “Mom, I want to quit. I know I should be grateful for this job, and I am, but sitting at a computer all day researching job openings and making cold calls is not what I was born to do.”

“What do you want to do?”

Andrew immediately became more animated. “I want to start a non-profit.”

I have to admit, this conservative person I didn’t even know existed popped up and almost caused me to blurt out, “Non-profit?! Do you know how many non-profits are going out of business these days because donations have dried up? How are you going to pay bills? What about health insurance?”

Thank heaven a wiser voice prevailed. I thought to myself, “Isn’t this exactly what 20-somethings ought to be doing at this stage of their life? Andrew’s 23. If he doesn’t go for what he wants now, he may never get a chance to later. Good for him for wanting to do work he’s proud of. I should be supporting him, not shutting him down.”

So, I said, “Andrew, you’ve always been resourceful. If you apply yourself, I know you can pull this off.”

You may be thinking, “But how could Andrew pull this off? He’d never run a non-profit before.”

That’s true … and that’s where GTS comes in.

GTS stands for Google that … stuff. (As you can imagine, Millennials sometimes substitute another word for stuff.)

Andrew thanked his boss for giving him that job opportunity right out of college – and then promptly got online and Googled “How can I start a non-profit?”

Up came dozens of resources – all telling Andrew exactly what steps he needed to take to get a license, find a team and get funding.

In the course of one year, Andrew recruited a team of 20 (!) interns and found a collaborative work space at the Affinity Lab in Washington DC.

It was the ideal environment to get other people on his bandwagon. Someone a couple desks over would ask, “Andrew, what are you working on today?”

Andrew would say, “I’m applying for a grant” and they would say, “Oh, I did that last year. You can borrow the proposal I filled out and use it as a template.”

Andrew never had to go it alone as he was surrounded by others who shared his vision and had his back … and front.

The result?

Dreams for Kids – DC – http://dreamsforkids.org/blankman/dc/ – has sponsored dozens of adaptive athletic programs for kids and gotten them off the sidelines and into the games of life. They have sponsored Extreme Recess clinics with the Washington Nationals baseball players, Capitals hockey players, Wizard and Mystic basketball players and United soccer players.

Dreams for Kids – DC has made a positive difference for thousands of young people through their Dream Leader programs in local schools and through their annual Holiday for Hope program at Howard University.

All because Andrew didn’t quit before he started because he “didn’t know what he was doing.”

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past few years interviewing people about their SerenDestiny – a life where the light is on in your eyes because you’re doing what you love most and do best – it’s that PEOPLE CAN’T JUMP ON YOUR BANDWAGON – IF ITS PARKED IN THE GARAGE.

What do you want to do? What would put the light on in your eyes?

Are you hesitating because you don’t know what to do?

Remember – you don’t have to know to go.

Get online right now. Phrase what you want to do as a question and put it into your favorite search engine. GTS your dream goal – and up will come dozens of resources to help you on your way.

Whether you want to write a book, become a ballroom dancer or launch your own business … those online resources will tell you how to take your first steps.

Do you want this year to be your best ever? Do you want the light on in your eyes?

Don’t wait, initiate.

GTS what you want to do. And then get your bandwagon out of the garage and get moving.

SerenDestiny #65: What You Do When You Procrastinate COULD be the Seed of Your SerenDestiny

“My parents always told me I wouldn’t amount to anything because I procrastinated so much. I told ’em, ‘Just you wait.” – comedian Judy Tenuta

Are you waiting for your destiny to show up?

Are you the kid who was always crystal clear about what you wanted to be when you grew up … or are you still searching for your ideal job – your life-work?

For most of us, clarity about our purpose doesn’t show up all at once. It crystallizes, over time, from a series of experiences that resonate, that feel right.

We notice that when we do this type of work or collaborate with these type of individuals, we feel meaningfully productive. It just fits. It’s a match for who we are and what matters most.

We can sometimes discover our life-work by taking a second look at what we do, naturally, in our free time … when we’re not working.

That is certainly the case with one of my colleagues.

Dana always used to “noodle and doodle.”

In class, instead of listening to her teacher, she would let her imagination run free. Instead of doing her assignments, she’d be filling the margins with what she was seeing in her mind’s eye.

Guess how Dana earns her living – a good living – in every sense of the word?

She’s a graphic facilitator. She is the person you see at conferences and strategic retreats, facilitating the discussion while simultaneously drawing a colorful mural that maps what’s happening in the room with images and highlighted words. http://take-action.com/

Dana loves her work – and it loves her. She has turned her joy into her job.

By the way, that is one of the definitions of SerenDestiny.

Make your joy your job.

So, what do you do when you’re supposed to be doing something else?

What are you drawn to do when you’re supposed to be doing your “real” job?

What do you do in your free time that resonates, feels right, fills you with joy?

Get creative about how you could get paid to teach that or do that for others.

If you do, you’ll never have to “work” another day in your life … because you’ll be in that sublime state of SerenDestiny where you’re earning a good living doing what you love most and do best.

SerenDestiny #63: Got Confidence? How to Get It, Keep It, Give It

“Life is a series of reboots.” – Katie Couric

I’m looking forward to speaking at the California Womens Conference next week.

This event, held at the Long Beach Convention Center, has a 20 year track record of attracting up to 15,000 women in one day.

Two of my favorite moments include sitting next to Jane Goodall (UN Messenger of Peace) at lunch and experiencing her powerful aura of calm, confident strength. Following lunch, she was interviewed by Linda Ellerbee in a packed theater.

Linda, who believes, “Only dead fish swim with the stream all the time,” asked Jane, still going strong at age 78, “You travel hundreds of thousands of miles – more than 300 days – a year. What keeps you going?”

Jane told a wonderful story about how it’s the kids who keep her going – and who fuel her “Roots and Shoots” mission that grew from 16 teens asking her questions to more than 100 organizations around the world. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Goodall

Another memorable moment was Katie Couric’s honest keynote about what it’s like being a public person who is often the target of potshots.

Think about it. Katie has been a pioneer in many ways. First woman to become a solo female network nightly news anchor. First woman co-host of the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games. First person to have a colonoscopy filmed live on national TV.

Yet she has also been a target.

Unfortunately, as she points out in this September 9, 2012 cover article from Parade Magazine, “Our country has become vitriolic, where there is some kind of perverse pleasure in seeing people fail.”

http://www.parade.com/celebrity/celebrity-parade/2012/09/06-katie-couric-on-love-loss-new-talk-show.html

How does she keep going when it seems so many people enjoy tearing her down?

As Katie says, “Fame is not what drives me. What fuels me is feeling passion about something, then focusing on it and being good at it.”

What is something you feel passionate about? What keeps you focused on becoming and then staying good at it – when people are trying to tear you down?

Confidence is not being cocky. It is not believing you’re better than other people.

Neither is it belieiving other people are better than you. Neither is it giving other people the power to take away your power.

If you believe in what you’re doing – if you think your message, mission, passion and purpose matter – then it is your responsibility to STAY confident and not LET other people put you down and pull you off course.

It serves no one to let the nay-sayers keep you small.

As pointed out in my book “What’s Holding You Back? 30 Days to Having the Courage and Confidence To Do What You Want, Meet Whom You Want and Go Where You Want” … If you feel your life is like a see-saw; perhaps you’re depending on other people for your ups and downs.

http://www.amazon.com/Whats-Holding-You-Back-Confidence/dp/0312254407

Confidence is staying the course of your calling – even through, especially through – the ups and downs that come with finding and fulfilling your SerenDestiny.

If you’re going through a dark time, a time where your vision isn’t materializing and you’re wavering because you’re being put down by nay-sayers and not getting the results you want, need and deserve … DON’T QUIT; CONTINUE.

Say to yourself, “I have confidence this has value. I have confidence that, if I persevere, it will happen. I have confidence that what I’m doing will make a positive difference for others … and for me. I will not retreat; I will REBOOT.”

And, if you want an infusion of confidence; plan on attending this amazing California Womens Conference @CAWomensConf. Get tickets until Sep 15 for only $99 w/ my code: HORN http://t.co/qflV8Ret

You will benefit from hearing inspirational stories and insights of dozens of best-selling authors, international thought leaders, Fortune 100 executives and Inc. 500 entrepreneurs sharing their best practices on how to re-commit to your passion and purpose and scale your income and impact.

I will be speaking on THE EYEBROW TEST: How to Confidently and Compellingly Communicate Your Idea so Everyone Hearing it GETS it, WANTS it, and ACTS on it.

Hope to see you there. Consider it a day-long shot of confidence that will reboot your commitment to stay the course and turn your dreams into reality.