Tag 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

photo of lebron

“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 …”

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.


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 #35: What Does George Clooney Say About Grabbing as Much Out of Life as You Can?

“You better live every day like it’s your last, because one day you’re going to be right.” – Frank Sinatra

Actor George Clooney was deeply impacted several years ago by the death of his beloved uncle.

He said, “Uncle George was sitting in bed toward the end. He looked at me and said, ‘What a waste.’

‘To this day, I don’t know if he was talking about the smoking that destroyed his lungs and barely let him breathe, or if he was talking about his life in general, that he felt he hadn’t become the man he wanted to be.

But I came to the conclusion I was not going to wake up at 65 and say, ‘What a waste.’ I was going to grab as much out of this life as I could.”

Are you grabbing as much out of this life as you can?

Many of us fall into routines and life slides by while we operate on autopilot.

In fact, studies show we tend to stay in a self-imposed status quo untill we have a SEE (Significant Emotional Event).

Most SEEs are traumatic. We get down-sized, divorced or our house gets destroyed in a hurricane.

These dire situations disrupt our ordinary autopilot existence and force us to re-evaluate how we’re spending our days.

The resulting assessment (“This is not the life I want to lead”) is the incentive  we need to make a radical change because we realize we’re leading a life that’s leading to regrets.

Are you acting as if you have all the time in the world?

What if you don’t?

What would you do differently if you knew you only had a short time to live?

I don’t think it’s morbid or melodramatic to consider our mortality.

Keeping the fragility of life top-of-mind inspires us to enjoy, appreciate and take advantage of each precious day.  It  brings us face-to-face with the perils of assuming we’ll have the freedom to focus on what really matters when we’re ready to – when we retire, aren’t so busy, have more money.

Joan Baez said, “We don’t get to choose how we’re going to die or when. We only get to choose how we’re going to live now.”

Want good news? You don’t have to have a painful SEE to trigger the wake-up call that motivates you to live a life more in alignment with your priorities.  You can have a pretend SEE.

Take a few minutes to complete the following “Are You Grabbing As Much Out of Life as You Can?” exercise.  Answering these questions can provide epiphanies about what you rather be doing . . . without the drama and trauma of a unwelcome, real-life SEE.

1.  Get a piece of blank paper and a pen. Draw a box and divide it into four quadrants.

2.  Number the boxes.  Top left (1)  Bottom left (2 ). Top right (3). Bottom right (4).

3.  Put the words “Doing” to the left of box 1.

4.  Put the words “Not Doing”  to the left of box 2.

5.  Put the words “Want To” on top of box 1.

6.   Put the words “Don’t Want To” on top of box 3.

7.  Have you ever played word-association games in which someone asks a question and you’re supposed to say the first thing that comes to mind?

That’s what you’re going to to do when I ask the following questions.

Please don’t second-guess your responses. Your first thought is usually your most honest thought. The goal here isn’t to be politically correct. The goal is to determine if you’re spending your time in harmony with your heart priorities. No one needs to see this but you. So, write down whatever pops into your mind even if it’s not appropriate, pretty or polite.

8. Square 1: What are you doing in your life that you want to?

For example, are you learning a new language? Dating someone you like? Working in your garden? Making a lot of money? Spending time on your hobby?  Mentoring someone or volunteering for a favorite philanthrophy or non-profit? Coaching your son’s soccer team? Doing work you love that matters? In other words, what are you doing that’s satisfying?

9. Square 2 : What are you not doing in your life that you want to?

Are you not exercising? Not traveling? Not singing or dancing? Not spending quality time with your elderly parents?  Not writing a book, starting your own business or going back to school to get your degree?  Not meeting new people? In other words, what do you wish you were doing that you’re not?

10. Square 3: What are you doing in your life that you don’t want to?

Are you commuting two hours every day? Over-eating? Fighting with your spouse? Smoking? Spending too much time online? Working in a dead-end job or for a boss who doesn’t appreciate your contributions? Hanging out with people who aren’t good for you? Skipping church or meditation because you’re too busy? In other words, what is happening in your life you wish wasn’t?

11. Square 4: “What are you not doing in your life that you don’t want to?”

Yes, this is a double negative. It’s an important question, though, because it identifies things you rather not do and you’re successfully keeping them out of your life. Perhaps you don’t want to do drugs and you’re not doing that. Maybe you’re not battling with an in-law. Maybe you don’t want to live in a crime-ridden city or don’t want to work 60 hours a week in an exhausting, soul-sapping bureacratic job with lots of red tape. . . and you’re not. 

12. Now, take a few extra minutes to go back and fill in additional responses. Initial responses can be enlightening, however secondary ones often dredge up something that’s been buried so long you don’t even let yourself think about it anymore.

13. Finished? Look at the answers in Squares 1 and 4. That’s what’s “right” with your life. That’s what’s giving you satisfaction. Continue those.

14. Now, circle the answers in Square 2 and 3. This is what’s “wrong” with your life – where you’re off path. These priorities are getting neglected for some reason. If you continue to ignore them, you’re on your way to regrets.

A (wiser) Gordon Gecko said, in the 2010 remake of Wall Street, “The prime asset of life is not money; it’s time.”

Don’t set yourself up for failure by tackling everything you don’t like about your life. It’s unreasonable and (overwhelming) to  launch an overly-ambitious plan to completely overhaul your life. That’s not necessary or healthy.

You may be familiar with the Pareto Principle (commonly called the 80/20 Rule) which says that “80 % of the value comes from 20% of the items.”

For example, stores make 80% of their revenue from 20% of the items in their store (the staples). Airlines make 80% of their profits from 20% of their customers (business travelers.)

I’ve come to understand that a higher ROI ratio is closer to 95 – 5.  

In fact, I call this The SerenDestiny 95-5 Rule.  Instead of trying to change 20% of your life (which is daunting),  it’s wiser to change 5% (which is do-able).

Identify one priority (your 5%) and focus on fixing that one behavior you want to STOP, START or DO DIFFERENTLY this week.

Doing one thing differently can be a pebble in the pond ofyour life that sets a chain of events in motion that make you feel better about yourself which generates the energy and incentive to keep changing things.

Are you thinking, “You make this sound so simple and straightforward. It’s not that easy. I can’t just tell all the people counting on me, ‘Sorry, I’m off to follow my dreams and do my own thing.’”

You’re right.  The good news is, I’m not suggesting you abandon all your responsibilities and go off and focus only on what you want.

It’s just that many of us put everyone else first and ourselves last (there’ll be more that in my next SerenDestiny blogpost.)  

As Oscar Wilde said though, “Selfishness is not living the way you wish to live; it is insisting everyone else live the way you wish to live.”

It’s not selfish to act on a heart priority that’s congruent with your raison d’etre (reason for being); it’s smart.

It’s fair to balance your life’s activities more evenly by honoring your needs and interests as much as you honor others.

So, what is one thing you’d love to do just for yourself?

Look over your answers in Square 2 and 3 again. What calls to you? What is something you used to enjoy, but haven’t had time for?

What is something you’ve always wanted to try, but someone told you it was silly and you let them talk you out of it?

What is something pulling you off path you’re not proud of – but haven’t had a compelling reason to change it . . . until now?

Your SerenDestiny could be a step away. Fixing your 5% – stopping, starting or doing one thing differently this week – is a way to create what you would like instead of regretting what you don’t like. 

Step away from the computer (or put your digitial device down) and make it happen right now.

Pick up the phone and call a walking buddy. Sign up for that salsa lesson or photography class.  Text a friend to meet you for lunch to discuss that small business you want to start. Register for the writers support group at your local bookstore.

 You owe it to yourself to initiate something that feels “right” – something that fills you with the pride that comes from making your life more of what you want it to be now, not someday.

You’ll feel more in control, your soul will say, “Now this is more like it!” and you’ll be setting your SerenDestiny in motion.