Category Archives: your best life

SerenDestiny #74: Did You Listen to the Believers or Nay-sayers? Did You Act on Your Talent – or Set It Aside

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“I am who I am because you believed in me.” – Ulysses S. Grant

In this fascinating article in USA Today, journalist Jeff Zillgitt reports that several Hall of Fame players from the NBA (i.e., Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) share their opinion that Lebron James is a player they admire and appreciate.

In fact, Russell said, “What I think about him is what I used to tell Wilt Chamberlain. I told him, ‘I think I’m the only guy on the planet who really knows how good you are because I’ve seen you up close.'”

You may know that Lebron was on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline The Chosen Onewhen he was a junior in high school.

Here are just a few of his other impressive stats:
* 9 time All-Star
* Player of the Week 43 times
* 1st player to average 26 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and shoot 56% from the field

Lebron James

So, what’s the point?

Well, first, congrats to Lebron.

Second, I love it when peers speak up about their respect for a colleague’s talent.

You know what I’ve discovered about many SerenDestineers?

Early in their life, they were fortunate to have people point out their talent.

Sometimes it was a teacher. Sometimes a coach. Someone who was close and SAW their talent. Someone who believed in them and took the time to say, “You’re good at this. You ought to pursue it.”

And these budding SerenDestineers listened.

They took this favorable feedback to heart and owned and acted on their talent.

They put in the hard work. They developed that talent and turned it into a pro-passion (half profession-half passion) where they now get paid to do what they love most and do best.

How about you?

Did you have a skill growing up you were good at? A talent that put the light on in your eyes?

Were you lucky enough to have believers around you who pointed it out and complimented you on it?

Did you take that feedback to heart? Did you own and act on your talent?

If so, has it led to you being in a state of SerenDestiny where you’re getting paid to do what puts the light on in your eyes?

Or, did the significant others in your life tell you, “That’s a nice hobby, but you’ll never make a living at it.”

Did they say, “I know you like to act, play ball, sing, dance, draw, (or whatever); but you’re not good enough to make the pro’s, play for the college team, make it in on Broadway, turn it into a career.”

Did you listen to those nay-sayers? Did you let someone steal your dream? Did you let those skeptics talk you out of pursuing what you loved to do?

Maybe they thought they were looking out for you. Maybe they genuinely thought they had your best interests at heart.

Regardless of their intentions, abandoning what you’re good at, putting aside a talent that once lit you up, can end in regrets. You may be filled with “What if’s?”

So, how old are you?

Are you still young, still trying to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life?

Are you mid-career and there’s still time to consider transitioning into work that could be more meaningful, that would give you an opportunity to use those latent talents?

Are you towards the end of your career and thinking about retirement?

Whatever stage of life-work you’re at; ask yourself the following questions.

1. What skill or talent did I have growing up? What lit me up?

2. What is something I was good at that people admired or complimented me on?

3. Am I still actively involved in that?

4. If so, is it rewarding? Does it bring me joy? Does it feel good to do what I’m good at?

5 If no, do I miss it? Would I like to get involved in that again? Is that feasible?

6. If I would like to bring that talent or skill back into my life, how am I going to do it? Who can I contact; what is one step I can take to get involved in what lights me up … this month?

I know you’re busy, and I’d love to hear your feedback about this.

Did you listen to the believers or the nay-sayers? Did you act on your talent – or put it aside?

Please take a few minutes to share your story. I’m eager to hear it, and I know others will benefit from hearing your experience … the good, the bad, the “I wish I had …”

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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 #61: What is the “SerenDestiny Story?”

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In the movie The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman’s character has just graduated from college.

His parents throw him a welcome-home party to celebrate.

One of his dad’s friends throws his arm around Dustin’s shoulders and asks, “So, what are you going to do now?”

Dustin tells him, “I was going to go upstairs.”

The man looks at him askance and says, “No, I mean … with your life.”

What are you doing with your life?

Do you have a meaningful purpose that gives you a reason to wake up every morning?

If so; you’re living in the sublime, deeply satisfying state of SerenDestiny®.

If not; please know that NOT knowing what you want to do with your life is … natural.

Sure, some lucky people, (like my son Tom who knew at age 8 he wanted to do something “up there” and now works with the International Space Station), have clarity about their purpose from an early age.

For most of us though, we figure it out along the way.

We figure it out by experimenting and learning what resonates and what doesn’t. Our life-work emerges from the process – it doesn’t precede the process.

The good news is, you can facilitate finding your life-work by studying the case studies of SerenDestineers who share their epiphanies of how and why they’ve come to love their life.  

I’ve been sharing their insights in this blog for the past year, and will be distilling their lessons-learned (and my own) in my upcoming book SerenDestiny: Is the Light On In Your Eyes?

I’d love to include your story of how you’ve created a life you love. How would you answer the following questions?

1. How did you discover your life’s purpose?

2. What obstacles did you encounter? How did you overcome them?

3. What advice do you have for how people can lead a life where the light’s on in their eyes?

Still searching for your SerenDestiny®? What questions and challenges would you like addressed in the book?

I really believe in “crowd-sourcing.”  This will be a better book if it features a variety of real-life examples from people around the world so everyone can relate to it.  

I know you’re busy … so thank you in advance for taking the time to submit your questions and suggestions to Sam@IntrigueAgency.com.  I look forward to hearing from you.

And in case you’re curious about how SerenDestiny® got started…. here’s the back-story.

What’s the SerenDestiny Story?

My sons Tom and Andrew were home for the holidays from Virginia Tech.

We were getting caught up over dinner and Andrew said, “Hey, Mom, I ran into Ryan last night. It was really interesting. I hadn’t seen him since high school and I’d been wondering what he was up to. Then, there he was … out of the blue.”

I laughed and said, “Oh Andrew. That wasn’t out of the blue. That’s called Serendipity. Some people call those happy accidents … but I don’t think they’re accidents.”

“What you do you mean?”

“Think about it. What are the odds of that happening?

You’re thinking about Ryan and all of a sudden he shows up?? Really?!

That’s not a coincidence, that’s a gift.

Your paths crossed for a reason. You’re supposed to figure out why and act on it. Maybe you’re meant to collaborate with Ryan on something.”

Andrew was intrigued. Later that night, he came up to me with a thoughtful expression on his face and said, “Mom, I really like that concept of . . . SerenDestiny®.”

Aahhh.  Out of the mouths of 20-somethings.  Little did I know that casual conversation would launch an incredibly rewarding, new direction in my career and business.

The idea of SerenDestiny® intrigued me too.

I realized, looking back, my whole life has been a series of SerenDestiny® Stepping Stones.

From an early age, something “out of the blue” would happen and I would somehow, instinctively, understand it was my job to capitalize on it.

That would lead to something wonderful which would in turn lead to something even more wonderful. People often tell me how lucky I am to do the work I was born to do and I agree.

But I think it’s more than luck.

In retrospect, I now see there were a variety of contributing factors that played a role in me leading a life I love.

Whenever it was time to make a pivotal life decision – what I now call Crucial Crossroads – I honored my Three I’s – Instincts, Integrity and Interests.

Every time I did, it paid off. Every time I didn’t, I paid the price.

The more I explored this concept, the more I started defining SerenDestiny® as “leading a life where the light’s on in our eyes.”

I started asking everyone I met, “How would you define SerenDestiny®?  Are you leading the life you’re meant to live?  If so, why?  If not, why not?”

I’ve learned a lot, including:

1. We move closer to the sublime state of SerenDestiny® every time we act in alignment with our Thre I’s – our Interests, Instincts and Integrity – and our Three V’s – Values, Voice and Vision at Crucial Crossroads.

2. SerenDestiny® doesn’t just happen. We don’t FIND our calling – we CREATE it. It is a byproduct of “doing our half,” honoring our hunches, proving our passion and connecting with kindred souls who facilitate and fast-forward our best future. When we do our half – the universe steps up and say, “all right-then,” and does its half.

3. It is never too late or too early to set our SerenDestiny® in motion. And we don’t need to win the lottery, fly to Bali or quit our job to lead a life where the light’s on in our eyes.

4. It is not selfish to seek our SerenDestiny®. Just the opposite. Identifying our gifts and giving them back to the world results in a “rising tide raising all boats” life that benefits all involved.