Category Archives: Sam Horn

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.

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SerenDestiny #68: You’ve Already Made It

You've already made it

“When my book was an answer to a “Jeopardy’ question.”

The response author Rebecca Skloot (whose book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” has been on the bestseller list for 100+ weeks) gave when asked by a reporter, “When did you feel you’d made it as an author?”

What would change if you decided, right here, right now, that you’ve already “made it?”

How would you feel if you started believing today that success is not out there in your future, dependent on achieving some goal you’ve set for yourself – you already are successful?

Too often people achieve something they set out to do … only to discover it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

I remember hanging out with bestselling authors in the penthouse of the Grand Wailea Resort in Hawaii back in the days I emceed the Maui Writers Conference.

Many of these authors were household names. They’d sold millions of books and had millions of fans. They had achieved the “holy grail” that the hundreds of would-be writers attending the conference aspired to.

Yet, what did they talk about? Did they talk about how rewarding it was to do work they loved? Did they talk about how much they appreciated having the freedom to, as Stephen King says, “Get paid to hang out in their imagination all day?”

Well, sometimes they did.

But more often they complained.

They complained that their publisher didn’t get their books in the stores in time for their Oprah appearance. They complained about the hardships of being on the road for 3 weeks straight, on an all-expenses paid, cross-country media tour. They complained about their editor not getting back to them in a timely way.

By many people’s standards, these high-profile authors had achieved “success.”

But once they got there, it was not nearly as satisfying as they thought it would be. It just came with a new set of standards of what it would take to make them happy.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s a better way.

And it doesn’t cost you a thing. Anyone can do it, anytime they want. You can do it, right here, right now.

Look around you.

Have you ever thought about it this way?

You’ve already “made it.”

You’ve made it to the age you are. Many people didn’t.

You made it by being able to see, walk, speak, hear. Many people can’t.

You’ve made it by having people in your life who love you and who you love. Not everyone can claim that.

Sure, there are things you want to see and achieve. That’s wonderful.

Just don’t think that success will automatically show up when you do.

Unless you change the way you perceive success, you’ll never really feel successful.

Success is not something you receive upon achieving something new; it’s something you feel when you appreciate all you’ve achieved.

Start seeing yourself as successful, right here, right now.

Start understanding and embracing the fact that … in the ways that count … you’ve already made it.

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 #60: Are You Going It Alone? Align with Peers Who Have Your Back and Your Front

“Individuality is fine. As long as we do it together.” – Frank Burns, M*A*S*H

A recurring theme of our recent strategic retreats was that many of us entrepreneurs work in isolation.

We all love being our own boss; it’s a pleasure and a privilege; and it can also be daunting when we’re the one supplying all the energy, focus and drive.

I discovered (the hard way) that one of the few downsides of running your own business is going it alone.

Many of you know I in Hawaii for 17 years. I loved living in Paradise, and didn’t really realize how professionally isolating it was until I moved to the Mainland – the Wash DC area.

A colleague Rebecca Morgan, (co-founder of SpeakerNetNews.com) and I roomed together at a convention that year. We stayed up late every night debriefing what we’d learned and swapping best-practice tips.

We decided to continue this rewarding collaboration by creating a master-mind group and inviting 5 carefully selected peers to join us in monthly phone calls and twice-a-year in-person meetings.

At our first meeting, we were “going around the table” updating each other on our priority projects and pinpointing where and how we could use help.

When it was my turn, I said, “I’m thoroughly enjoying this and I’m glad to be part of it. I just can’t think of anything I need help with, so I’ll donate my time back to the group.”

It was quiet for a moment. Then Rebecca (bless her heart) said, “Well, what are you working on right now?”

“I’m re-doing my website.”

“We can help you with that, “Rebecca said confidently.

And she was right. A half hour later, my website was infinitely better because of the group’s suggestions.

My subsequent epiphany was, “It had been so long since I had asked for help, I had forgotten how.”

Since there hadn’t been any other professional speakers on Maui at that time, I didn’t have anyone to “talk shop” with.

The few times I did share my business activities with acquaintances, they simply didn’t have the industry knowledge to be able to give informed advice.

So, I stopped asking. I ended up doing everything myself. And that worked pretty well. As the saying goes, it was what it was.

But I had an epiphany while discussing an online info-product I was developing with my master-mind group.

Val asked, “Why are you only offering one pricing option? Why not bundle your CD’s together and offer three different packages so people can buy at their own comfort level?”

Uh, duh. Why wasn’t I doing that? Because it had never occurred to me.

That’s just one of the many advantages gained from having a variety of people bring their combined expertise to the table (so to speak) – people who have your back … and your front.

As entrepreneurs, we often get so close to our work; we can’t see it clearly anymore.

That’s one of the many advantages of being part of a strategic master-mind.

Peers can often pinpoint our blind-spots and tell exactly what we need to do differently to break through an impasse.

Group brainstorming not only saves us a lot of trial-and-terror learning; it’s the quickest way to dramatically improve and expedite results.

Lily Tomlin said, “Remember, we’re all in this … alone.”

Are you trying to get your bandwagon out of your garage … all on your own?

Maybe you don’t know anyone who has experience with what you’re pursuing.

Or, you live in an isolated area and you’re working solo because there doesn’t seem to be any alternative.

Or, somewhere along the way you were taught not to “bother” people by asking for their help, so your default is to be self-sufficient rather than seeking support?

If there’s anything I’ve learned after interviewing thousands of SerenDestineers; it’s that strategically aligning with compatible colleagues who have our best interests at heart is a non-negotiable for creating a propserous business and a rewarding life where the light’s on in our eyes.

The good news is, we don’t have struggle to figure everything out on our own. We can go it alone … together.

A wonderful example of a group that does an excellent job of providing highly interactive mastermind groups for its membera is EO – Entrepreneurs Organization. http://www.eonetwork.org/Pages/welcome.aspx

EO members love having access to best practices and best practicers at their chapter meetings, national conferences and global events – but they all agree that participating in their EO mastermindmind groups (FORUMS) is a life-changing, business-enhancing, rising-tide-raising-all-boats experience.

Are you tired of going it alone?

If so, check out EO and explore how you can reach out and align with professional peers who have your back and front.

SerenDestiny® #55: How Do You Really Feel About Happiness?

I’ve heard some people are afraid of success; but it was a new concept to me that some people might also be afraid of happiness.

Really?

That was the startling premise of Dr. Brene’ Brown’s fascinating presentation at a recent Leadership Colloquium at NASA Goddard.

Brene’s TED talk on “The Power of Vulnerability” is one of the top ten most-downloaded TED videos.

After the first 10 minutes of her NASA presentation, it’s easy to understand why.

She’s disarmingly honest about her journey from being a left-brained researcher who only valued bottom-line facts to discovering the transcendent, whole-hearted, free-flowing love that comes from having children.

What she didn’t anticipate is the fear that comes from being a mom.

She describes how she used to stand in her kids’ rooms at night and watch them sleep … and weep.

Why?

She cherished them so much, she was afraid something would happen to them.

She knew this was illogical. They were perfectly healthy, perfectly fine. Yet there she was … miserable.

She started researching why the emotion of happiness seems to be irrevocably tied with fear.

Brene’ told a story that opened our eyes to how common this phenomenon is.

A family is driving to their grandparents’s house for Christmas. The parents are uptight because they’re running late.

The kids, sitting in the back seat, start singing Jingle Bells .

The parents realize how ridiculous they’re being and start singing Jingle Bells along with them.

At this point, Brene’ asked the audience, “And then what happened?”

Guess what the majority said??

“They get in a car accident.”

Is that what you thought?

Do you know what that means?

It means, deep down, you believe happiness is fleeting.

You think happiness is … too good to be true.

If things are going well, it’s only a matter of time before the other shoe drops and something goes wrong.

Arrgghh.

Say it ain’t so.

It gets worse.

In an effort to protect ourselves against the pain we feel when something goes wrong … we prepare ourselves for the heartbreak. We start imagining it so we won’t be blindsided when it happens.

That “failure forecasting” of course sets up a self-fulfilling prophecy which increases the likelihood of something going wrong because that’s what we’re focused on.

When something does go wrong, it proves us “right.” Our worst fears are realized and reinforced. We have even more reasons to worry which sets up an emotionally unhealthy spiral.

We don’t want to be caught off guard by grief so we don’t allow ourselves to enjoy joy. And our envisioning all the things that could go wrong ensure that more things do.

The good news is, we can change this default belief if we choose.

And we need to change this default belief if we want to find and fulfill our SerenDestiny®.

Because SerenDestiny® is leading a life where the light is on in our eyes because we’re doing what we love most and do best.

If, deep down, we’re afraid of loving life because we don’t want to achieve it only to lose it … we avoid it.

So, how do we change these destructive default beliefs?

Instead of steeling ourselves against what could go wrong … we steep ourselves in what’s going right.

We adopt a mantra of “Receive, receive, receive. Revel, revel, revel.”

We choose to appreciate and enjoy good times instead of anticipating they’ll quickly be followed by bad times.

We stop trying to predict or protect ourselves from a potentially hurtful future.

Next time the light is on in your eyes … instead of thinking, “This can’t last,” look around and tell yourself, “Imprint, imprint, imprint.”

Tell yourself, “I welcome this blessing. I savor it. I immerse myself in it.”

As H. L. Mencken said, “We are here and it is now. Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine.”

How about you? Somewhere along the line, did you learn to be suspicious of happiness lest it be taken away from you? If so, what consequences has that had on your ability to create a life you love?

What are you going to do to change that “too good to be true – waiting for the other shoe to drop mentality?”

What mantra are you going to adopt to welcome loving your life – instead of worrying it won’t last?

Many SerenDestineers have told me they agree with Meister Ekhart’s insight, “If the only prayer we ever said was, ‘Thank you,’ that would be enough.”

From now on, when you’re experiencing good fortune, don’t look a gift source in the mouth.

Simply look around, receive, revel and just say Thank you … and mean it.

Your thoughts, experiences and insights? Please share.

And be sure to check out Dr. Brene Brown’s website and blog. Her insights on how we can be whole-hearted (rather than going through life half-hearted so we don’t get hurt) are brilliant.

http://www.brenebrown.com/