Tag Archives: happiness

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 #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?”

Image

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.

SerenDestiny #57: A Hundred Days of Summer: Music. Movement. Musings.

“Is not life a hundred times too short for us to become bored?” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Why is it some of us take life for granted when we’re fortunate to be blessed with health, freedom and love?

I think it has a lot to do with routines.

We get up at the same time. Have a quick breakfast or cup of coffee. Go to work. Come home. Have dinner with family, friends or ourselves. Take care of chores, bills, email and social media. Maybe watch some TV. Go to bed.

The downside of routines is it’s easy for life to become … routine.

And life is much too precious to become routine.

So, I’m doing something about it …and inviting you along.

Did you know we have exactly 100 days between now and Labor Day?

Let’s make those 100 days special. Let’s make this a summer to remember … a summer we’ll always remember.

Join me for a HUNDRED DAYS OF SUMMER: MUSIC. MOVEMENT. MUSINGS.

We have our health, freedom, friends and family. We have the big outdoors waiting for us to take advantage of it.

Let’s make the most of them.

Let’s create something special so we look back on Labor Day and smile at the exhilarating abundance we’ve experienced and enjoyed.

I vow (and hope you’ll vow with me) to:

MOVE: Every day I will get out for a fast walk somewhere NEW with my smart-phone, notepad and loyal canine companion, Murphy.

NEW movement is the key. No routine walks around the neighborhood, no working out on the treadmill in our basement or the Stairmaster at the gym.

Let’s move outside in nature and immerse ourselves in these summer days. I live in an incredible lakeside community with forested walking trails and stream parks. I’m going to explore them all.

MUSIC: Every day I will put in a new track on Pandora – which is free and an absolute joy – and sample fresh music.

MUSINGS: Every day I will take a photo of something I notice along the way. When observations turn into Aha’s, revelations or epiphanies about the essential nature of something; I will pause to write it down.

I will report out every day – share an insight and image of my musical and musings and movement – and hope you will too.

I promise to keep these to UNDER 500 words – and ask that you too.

With that said, I’ve got 58 words left so I better get cracking.

MUSIC: Hallelujah Radio on Pandora

MOVEMENT: Around Lake Audubon in Reston, VA

MUSINGS: Image of “Gratitude Bench” – where I go to send up thanks for all that’s right with my world.

Love that there was a life-jacket hanging on the bench. You know what I think?

Gratitude is a spiritual life-jacket that keeps us afloat in emotional storms.

Your turn.

SerenDestiny® #51: Am I Waiting Until I Have All My Ducks in a Row … to Turn My Dream into Reality?

I used to be a “Have to have my ducks in a row to go” kind of person.

I thought it was being responsible.

We wouldn’t want to waste people’s valuable time, right?

I thought it just made sense to think things through before asking or acting. It decreased the risk of mistakes, rejection and failure and increased the likelihood of success.

Then I saw this YouTube Clip.

Who would have guessed a 46 second YouTube clip (now viewed by more than 21 million people) would result in a life-changing new perspective?

I love that clip because it shows we don’t have to have our ducks in a row … to go.

That mama duck and her little ducklings got blown all over the place – but they just picked themselves up, brushed themselves off and proceeded along their way.

No harm, no foul.

Hmmm …

How did I get so locked into the “ducks in a row” mentality?

I think it was a remnant of growing up in the 60’s.

I grew up before Title IX. As women, we were often treated as second class citizens. We had to wait to be asked to the dance.

So, when we graduated from college and finally got our “equal opportunity” to enter the workplace, we felt compelled to prove ourselves and have our act together.

Our goal was to quickly show we could be trusted to work hard, make wise “unemotional” decisions, deliver results … and for God’s sake, never, ever cry.

Thinking back, I now understand my Dad also played a role in my belief that you always do your homework before making a request or recommendation.

During dinner, he would grill us about an issue and play devil’s advocate to develop our ability to debate, think on our feet and back up opinions with facts.

Feelings didn’t count. A passionate belief wasn’t a sufficient cause for action. If I tried to defend a stance with, “Well, that’s how I feel,” or “That’s what I believe,” he would retort, “Not good enough.”

Dad wasn’t being mean. He was simply trying to prepare us to make a strong case for our ideas and win arguments with unassailable logic and irrefutable, thoroughly-thought-out strategies.

That upbringing and training about the importance of due diligence served a very good purpose.

I, (and many boomer women from that “We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby” era) grew up being able to justify every proposed action with evidence and precedence.

We’re logical thinkers and deliverers, and don’t often encounter those pesky “surprises” that result from not preparing for every eventuality.

That strength has served us well up until now. In all likelihood, doing our homework has reduced the number of regrets, false starts, rejections and failures.

But that “Don’t go unless our ducks are in a row” strength has also taken a toll … because it is an extreme.

And any strength taken to an extreme becomes our Achilles Heel. (Our Achilles Hell?)

As a result of that all-or-nothing philosophy … we have missed many opportunities.

And that’s too bad because a hallmark of many SerenDestineers is … they didn’t know what they were doing … and they went ahead and did it anyway.

Many of them saw a problem, need or opportunity and thought, “Somebody should do something about that.”

Then they thought, “I’m as much a somebody as anybody… I’ll do something about it.”

The thing is, many of them had no previous experience with the dream they were going to pursue or the project they were about to launch … but they didn’t let that stop them. They went ahead and learned along the way.

And, like the mama duck and her little ducklings … they often got knocked ass over teakettle.

But they picked themselves up, brushed themselves off and proceeded along their way.

They understood that “getting blown off course” is the natural disruption phase of the discovery process.

By definition, when we do something for the first time, we will get knocked off our feet … it is to be expected.

Our job is to get our bandwagon out of the garage so other people can jump on it.

That’s what Miki Agrawal did.

Miki is a former investment banker and Division 1 soccer player. She told me, “The apartments in New York City are so small, my friends and I used to go out to dinner every night because who wants to stay home? I ended up with digestive problems though because everything I ate at restaurants was bad for me.

After one partcularly painful stomach-ache I thought, ‘Why can’t I find food I like that’s good for me?’

So, I did some research. I Googled “restaurants in NYC” and discovered that pizza accounts for 10% of all food service sales. Everyone loves pizza, but it’s usually made with tons of cheese and other not-so-good-for-you ingredients.

I thought, “Why not open a restaurant that serves a variety of organic pizzas made with fresh, healthy ingredients that taste good and are good?’

Had I ever run a restaurant before? No. Did I have any food and beverage experience? No.

And yes, I had seen all the scary statistics that 90% of all restaurants fail in the first year; and 70% of the remaining restaurants fail in their second year.

So, I knew the odds were against me but I decided to give it a try … and Slice Perfect is the result.”

Not only has Slice Perfect won many awards; it has beat the odds and is now going on its seventh year. Check out their fabulous website – http://sliceperfect.com/ – and stop by next time you’re on Hudson Street in NYC for fabulous food.

Furthermore, Zappos founder Tony Hsieh just asked Miki to open a Slice Perfect in the newly-renovated downtown district in Las Vegas.

Would any of this have happened if Miki had waited until her ducks were in a row?

No.

Did Miki make mistakes and get temporarily blown off her feet?

You bet.

Did she view those as failures; as indications she should quit or shouldn’t have started in the first place?

Nope.

Like that mama duck and her ducklings, she just picked herself up, brushed herself off, learned from her mistakes … and proceeded along her way.

How about you?

What’s your SerenDestiny dream? Do you want to start a non-profit? Launch your own business? Write a book? Train for a half-marathon?

Are you waiting until everything’s perfect and you have all have your ducks in a row?

If so, watch that 46 second video again.

Hopefully, it will inspire you to adopt a new philosophy that goes something like this.

“I will not WAIT until all my ducks are in a row … to go.
I will not WAIT to be asked to the dance.
I will INITIATE on my own behalf.
I will have the CLARITY and COURAGE to get my SerenDestiny® bandwagon out of the garage.
I will LEARN ALONG THE WAY.”

Write this philosophy (or your version of it) on an index card and put it on your refrigerator, mirror, in your wallet and on your laptop.

Posting this pro-active motto where you see it all day, every day, will keep it in-sight, in mind … instead of out of sight, out of mind.

And you might want to mull over this quote from sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke:

“No one can predict the future.
The best we can hope for is the ‘masterful administration of the unforeseen.’
Ride the whirlwind. That’s the most we can do.”

Don’t try to predict and guarantee a successful future .. and don’t try to “masterfully administer” the whirlwind.

That sounds a lot like control – and we know how THAT works out.

Embrace the whirlwind that will happen when you set your SerenDestiny® in motion.

Enjoy it. Appreciate it. Welcome it. It is an indication you’re turning your dream into reality.

And, if the whirlwind of disruption and discovery temporarily blows you off your feet; get up, brush yourself off, adapt, and keep moving forward. Always forward.