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The POWER of Integrity

integrity powerEvery day I harp on my clients about the most important quality one needs to flourish in the world:  INTEGRITY.  I don’t mean just the kind of integrity like telling the truth, keeping your promises and avoiding committing crimes.  I mean integrity like you are living a life that is CONSISTENT with who you say you are in the world.  Integrity that changes your circumstances.  Integrity that, literally, creates the world around you so that it is consistent with your vision and goals.  This is true integrity.

This kind of integrity requires you to be clear about who you are, have an action plan to get there and be committed to (and in action on) having conversations in your community about your vision. I don’t know who said it, but I love the quote: “Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking.”

There is a tool that I like to teach that I call INTEGRITY EXCELLENCE. The foundation for this kind of integrity is transparency: telling the truth, keeping your promises, having tough conversations, doing what is collectively viewed as “right” in our world. Once you have that kind of integrity, you take it to the next level. You commit to ACT and leave everything you touch better when you leave it. This means EVERYTHING. Every person, every place, every THING that you come in contact with, you improve in some way. You go to the bathroom and there’s water around the sink, you wipe it up. You see someone with a flat on the interstate, you stop and help. You literally become the change agent for improvement of quality of life around you.

But what does wiping a bathroom sink have to do with integrity? Well, human beings are at their best when we serve. And, if you are committed to being at your best, you are not in integrity if you do not serve.

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

CALL TO ACTION: For the next 24 hours, take the INTEGRITY EXCELLENCE challenge–make everything you touch, better. What did you notice about doing it? What opened up in your life because you were so intentional about integrity in your life? I’d love for you to come back and share your results!

 

 

 

One Thing That is Better Than Sex

A recent study from Harvard University suggest that our brains respond to self-disclosure the same way it responds to pleasure triggers like food, money or sex.  It feels surprisingly good to share all of those embarrassing pictures, failures, life observations and revealing bits of personal information.  Transparency is critical for anyone to build relationships, whether on a business, or personal, level.

conversationIn my courses, I often say that integrity is the source of all success or suffering.  And transparency is directly linked to integrity.  When I say integrity, I don’t mean honesty, morality or righteousness, I mean integrity like a lining up of your life to who you say you are.  Transparency is your honest representation of that journey; being straight about your wins, and being straight about your losses.  Being transparent is more than just telling the truth about your struggles, it is about being open and vulnerable.  The act of being transparent often elevates your integrity.

In order to achieve real success in life, you must be transparent.  Your relationships, and your life for that matter, must be built upon a foundation of truth.  You must communicate what is real, not what looks good.  For instance, I recently had a conversation with a personal friend who is losing their home to foreclosure.  Having this information before I went into the conversation, I asked with concern about their welfare and impending move.  Instead of saying, “We’ve gone through a tough time and we got so behind in our mortgage, we couldn’t catch up.  We’re going through a foreclosure,” they said “We’re making some changes… we’re letting our lawyers work out something with the house.”  First of all, they don’t have lawyers; they’re walking away from their house before it is taken from them.  I get it.  Life is tough and it threw them a curve ball.  They have had some ridiculously difficult circumstances to deal with.  I’m not judging… but being transparent about the REAL situation is what will give them power in it.  Putting a positive spin on the truth or pretending that something else is going on, is just nonsense.  This lack of transparency disempowers you in dealing with reality, and it doesn’t allow anyone to contribute to you in support.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you run around sharing all of your personal drama and dirty laundry with everyone you meet, but communicating the truth in the appropriate setting can be incredibly powerful.  This kind of transparency can not only open possibilities for you that you hadn’t seen prior to the disclosure, but it can also contribute to others by encouraging their transparency.

We all struggle.  Not one of us is perfect.  Most of us have no idea how powerful the truth can be when we fully embrace it.  Openly sharing the situations in which you struggle is a great exercise This kind of transparency is necessary to create integrity, and ultimately, REAL success in every step of life.

 

CALL TO ACTION:  Tell someone the truth about an issue that is difficult for you.  Focus on an area in your life where you are struggling, or totally failing.  Come back and share in the comment section how it went for you.

The ONE WORD That Will Change Your Life

This time of the year, most of us are losing steam. We started the shiny New Year with a fresh sense of purpose and adventure and we set out to create a whole new life for ourselves. We made resolutions to lose weight, work out and improve our lives in some new way… now, over a month into the new year, we look around and wonder “What happened?” We are still fat, we have only made it to the gym twice and our job still sucks. It may seem hopeless.

calendarHowever, it is NOT hopeless. We need to check out disappointment at the door and examine why we failed. Failure is always an opportunity. We must use it as an opening for real change; and REAL CHANGE doesn’t come from a new year’s
resolution. REAL CHANGE comes from consistency. It comes from taking something on and winning and losing, day-in and day-out. When we win, we celebrate; when we lose, we learn from it.

Over the years of coaching hundreds of clients, I have found that for most of us, resolutions don’t work. They are too long-term, too fleeting, too easily tossed aside. I believe that it is much more effective to consider the bigger picture: who are you? What are you committed to producing in your life? Where do you want to be a year from now? Look at these questions and look for ONE WORD. One word that is a quality, a description, an impetus… that if you were being that one word all year long, you would naturally achieve the results you were committed to achieving. If you were BEING your word, you would HAVE the things you wanted in your life. This one word will change your life.

My word this year is AWAKE. I want to be awake in my life. I want to be intentional and make choices that are consistent with who I say I am and what I say I am committed to. I want to be more patient and loving with my family. I want to eat healthy and organically, conscious of what “I’m voting for with my fork.” I want to cause the quality of my life and my free time. I want to improve in my hobbies. I want to be AWAKE to the little things in my life–the moments that pass by unnoticed. I have created a ritual to center myself in this intention every day. Every morning, before I get out of bed, I read a note I keep at my bedside. I pray/meditate on it. I consider how it might look as my day unfolds. I center my attention fully on this intention. The act of focusing on being “awake” for 10 minutes every morning is changing my life. It is not changing my life because I am getting really good at being awake… on the contrary. It is changing my life because I am getting really good at failing. I am beginning to distinguish all of the places I am fully asleep at the wheel of my life… but this is the first step. Distinguishing your failure is ALWAYS the first step to success.

What will your ONE WORD be this year? I know, the new year is not new anymore… the freshness is not automatic. So what?!. Start over. Begin again. Continue to fail until you succeed.

CALL TO ACTION:  Write a list of things you want to do, be or have this year. Notice a consistent theme in all these things. What ONE WORD, if you were being it, would produce those results in your life this year? Take it on.

Be Revolutionary

“Today’s revolutionaries look like you and me. They are in our companies. They are in our government. They start businesses. They run schools. They look ahead and say “I believe in a world way better than this one.”  ~Simon Sinek

What would you like to change?  This is the question with which every revolution (and, therefore, revolutionary) starts.  Every day people just like you and me look at life and see a problem and then begin innovating until they find a solution.  Sometimes the solution is technological, sometimes it’s a change in societal beliefs.  Sometimes the innovation is new software or a product or an idea… but it all starts with a conversation.

Revolutionaries see a vision and commit their lives to making it happen.  They begin to make it happen by starting with verbalizing their commitment: Thomas Jefferson saw the possibility of a new kind of government for America.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “had a dream” that one day all men would be equal.  Robert F. Kennedy saw that America could land the first man on the moon.

Whoever the visionaries are that you look up to, every one of them has a single thing in common: they began with a dream and began to vocalize it.  The power of conversation and a soul committed to generating it, is a force to be reckoned with.

Who are you and what are your dreams?  Maybe it’s not to change the world… but what about your community?  Or your family?  All of us are destined for more.  Today is the day you stop settling and you begin to dream.

No matter your social or economic status, your level of education or your life situation, YOU have the first tool you need to make it happen.  You have your conversation.  What will you say next?

For more inspiration and to get a pulse on today’s up-and-coming revolutionaries, read more at: http://www.utne.com/2008-11-13/50-Visionaries-Who-Are-Changing-Your-World.aspx

Ready. Set. REINVENT!

It’s almost the new year.  It’s the time where everything that didn’t work or didn’t happen this year goes in the trash and we get to start anew.  I love reinvention.  I love when people all around the world are on the same page; reinventing themselves to become more… to bring a fresh perspective into our lives.  This time of year it is easy to take on things that otherwise seem  difficult.  It is this time of year when EVERYTHING is possible.  We allow ourselves to explore our dreams and to get organized to make them happen.  I’m not talking about little resolutions; lose 10 pounds, drink more water, exercise 3 times a week.  I’m talking about looking at your life and choosing to be MORE.  The new year provides the opportunity for each of us to inventory who we are and what we are doing with what we’ve got.  It provides us with the opening to select a different path; to be remarkable.

Chad Fowler, techie and CTO of InfoEther, Inc. said “the key to getting started down the path of being remarkable in anything is to simply act with the intention of being remarkable.”  Indeed, we must be clear about what we want and take committed, intentional action to get closer every day.  We need a plan.  A structure.  A routine.  We need to see the end goal and the path straight to it.  Aristotle said that we are what we repeatedly do.  What will you DO this year? What is your plan?  What end goals do you want to keep in sight?

As we all look with possibility to 2012, here are some quick tips to making it the best year of your life:

1.   Tell the truth.  What is working, what is not.  You are 100% responsible for the quality of your life.  Are you really willing to change?

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”  ~Richard P. Feynman, Nobel Prize-winning physicist

2.  Don’t overwhelm yourself.  Choose no more than 3 areas to focus on in the new year.

3.  In those areas, create clear, concise, measurable goals and a way to track your results consistently.

“What gets measured gets managed.”  ~Peter Drucker, recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom

4.  Develop a step-by-stop plan to achieve those goals.  (If you need more specific direction, get my free “7 Steps” ebook.)

5.  Be gentle on yourself.  Being perfect is not the solution… just be better.  Every day.

 

Stuck in a Rut in the Muck of Your Life?

Too often, we get bogged down in the daily “to-do’s” of life and forget that we were actually made for something bigger.  I can’t tell you how many of my clients show up in my office because they are tired, overwhelmed and bored of their day-to-day lives.  Most of them are asking themselves “Is this all there is?”  They are trudging through their lives counting the hours, the minutes, to when they get to leave their job and go home… they are looking to Friday when the weekend is their own… they are anticipating the thing, the time, OUT THERE IN THE FUTURE, that will finally make them happy.  And yet, it never comes.  Life never changes.  It seems that this is all there is.  We are stuck in a rut in the muck of our lives… and it seems we will be there forever.

These seasons of discontent happen in all of our lives.  No one is immune.  The question is: how long will you remain stuck there?  Will you spend your life in a job you hate and wake up when you are 50 wondering where all those years went?  Will you roll over one day, look at your husband/wife, examine your life and feel deep regret and the choices you’ve made?  Or will you notice your discontent when it arrives, address it and alter it in that moment?  If you are awake in life, these times of discontent remain short: just a day, maybe a few hours… perhaps you are a master at rebooting and you can alter in just minutes.

Rebooting is the key to waking yourself up.  Human beings are wired up much like computers; when our systems are overloaded and we are under-performing, we freeze up.  The mouse doesn’t move, no solutions pop up… everything comes to a stand still.  These are the moments of the greatest discontent in our lives.  We stand frozen, looking out over a field of unfulfilled expectations, dreams and become overwhelmed with disbelief as we ask ourselves “Is this all there is?”  In that moment, what is needed is a reboot.  Just like a computer, we need to shut down, take a break, re-evaluate and re-invent.  These are the moments in our lives that create possibility and return us to ourselves; to our larger vision, our more important goals, our fundamental gifts.

CALL TO ACTION: Do you know how to reboot?  What activities, when complete, return you to “yourself?”  What activities bring you joy and satisfaction in life?  Check out our reboot toolbox under the tab “free tools” on the website for an exercise that will help you identify your reboot tools.  For those of you that want to reboot NOW and begin to create a life more consistent with your dreams, join us at our next REBOOT your life course in Racine.

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Floundering Around in a Pool of Self-Pity

You know those bad days.  They start with your 12-year-old sick.  Then you are forced to cancel 2 days full of meetings and stay at home with her.  Your agenda goes into the trash can.  You are stuck at home with a dirty house, loud, barking dogs and a pile of laundry you could bury yourself in.  Next, your husband has a rough day at work; his company is considering laying him off.  Without the stability of his income and access to great health insurance, how will you survive?  SURVIVAL?  Suddenly the world around you is crap… EVERYTHING sucks.  You get cranky and people start turning into idiots around you.  Your assistant can’t figure out how to complete a mailing that needed to go to the post office by the end of the day, and because of your sick child, you can not go in to sort it all out.  An important deadline is about to get missed.  All you want to do is take a nap.  Throughout the day, the dishes pile up, you eat food that is bad for you and your attitude and situation seemingly get worse as the day progresses. Suddenly your bad day equals a rotten life and you are completely in the dumps.  Nothing seems good.  Nothing is working.  Nothing is possible.

We all have bad days.  We all have moments where we want to give up; climb into bed, pull the covers over our heads and just GET AWAY.   Nothing is possible. These days are actually the ones that present the BIGGEST OPPORTUNITIES FOR US.

It’s easy to be happy and passionate and productive when life is going well; when you are experiencing success.  The real test of success, though, is creating your dreams when they DON’T seem possible or probable.  When you are the most down, you have the biggest opportunity to change the tide of your life.  You have the opportunity to stand up and push back on life and carve out what you are committed to… or you can surrender and flounder around in a pool of self-pity.  Self-pity begets more pity, and soon, you, AND YOUR LIFE, are completely pitiful.

Life is all about the conversations you are causing; every minute, every day.  If you are dwelling in how rotten everything is, YOU ARE RIGHT.  Your life and your circumstances will continue to be rotten.  If, instead, you dwell in gratitude and are constantly creating opportunities to focus on what is right with the world, you will have more joy.

This is really, very simply, the law of attraction in action: what you sow, you reap.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~Melodie Beattie

CALL TO ACTION:  What can you do today to focus on what is right with the world?  What can you do to change your mind, change your focus and generate gratitude?

You Only Have “Now”

Have you ever made a bucket list?  The movie, by the same name, made this list popular; on it is all of the things you want to do in your lifetime, before you “kick the bucket.”  If you were to make a list of all of things you would love to do someday, how many things would be on that list?

I led a course about visions and mission statements last week and was surprised at the amount of things that people have on their “one day” lists.  You know… “one day” I’ll do that, “one day” I’ll do this…  “one day” (if it ever comes) is sure going to be a heck of a day!

In a recent post about perfectionism and productivity, my friend and fellow coach, Jeannette Seibly. said it best when she said “there is no perfect time.” In her article she talks about how perfectionism gets in the way of producing results.  I’d like to take that thought a step further: many times we don’t even ATTEMPT to accomplish our dreams.  We put them on hold for the belief that when we have more time, or when we retire, we’ll get to fulfilling all of those desires that burn so brightly inside of us.  This day is the only day you can count on, yet many of us live our lives as if a future is guaranteed.

“Death is not the biggest loss in life… the greatest loss is what dies inside us as we live.”

Your homework today is to make a bucket list.  List everything that you would “one day” like to do.  Then, once the list is complete, begin timeblocking those items into your schedule.  Some may take planning and budgeting, but regardless, make them happen.

Make today the “one day” you’ve been waiting for.

Source Your Happiness In Community

This is part 2 of a 4 part series on “Being the Best You, You Can Be.”

People are funny.  We want to be generous.  We want to be loving.  We want to be kind.  But so much of the time we opt for being stingy, hateful and mean instead… mostly to protect ourselves.  Who hasn’t heard that it’s a “Dog-eat-dog world out there” or been told that you’ve got to have a “Kill or be killed” mentality.   It’s survival of the fittest, and all that, right???

Wrong.  Fully living life is about being connected to one another, not protected.  You cannot be the best “you” possible in a vacuum; you need community.  Human beings need connection in order to survive.  We need to be IN RELATIONSHIP with one another.  We need conversation.  We crave input.  We need people.  Anyone that tells you differently is in “protection mode” and ultimately, that will cost them happiness and satisfaction in life.   The importance of community cannot be overestimated in one’s life… and the lack of community can be translated into feeling disconnected and lost.  Community helps us define ourselves and hold true to our values.

People have thrived in communities ever since time began.  Community is often used to refer to a group that is organized around common values and attributed with social cohesion.  Since the onset of the internet, a community is no longer limited by geography and is most often defined my common conversations and commitments.  The word “community” is derived from the Latin word communitas (cum, “with/together” + munus, “gift”), a broad term for fellowship or organized society.

A need for community lies in the soul of every human being; it is a basic human need.  Whether you examine the Native American tribes that lived, worked and hunted together, or the Christians who gathered together to worship in the first century, the common thread that runs through every nation and culture  throughout history is the role that community plays is one’s day-to-day life.  Being part of a nurturing community is very important in each of our lives and has been for thousands of years.

Modern culture, particularly in the US, often encourages individualism and praises “doing it on your own.”  But what would life be like if we could depend more on one another… if we had an expectation that those we loved and were in relationship with would be there to help us pick up the pieces?  Or even more so, they would be supportive on a daily basis to help us build our faith, our vision and create more happiness in our lives.  This is the integral role that I believe community plays in life.  Community is truly at the source of our happiness and feelings of fulfillment.  If we, as individuals, know that we are part of a bigger whole… a community that we can trust and count on, we thrive in life and produce better results.

Unfortunately, too many times, individuals think they are strong enough, smart enough and competent enough to source themselves.  They don’t “need” anyone else… they can do it all alone.  This is a recipe for disaster and loneliness.  Sure, being vulnerable and being part of a community means risking getting hurt and, occasionally, maybe even taken advantage of, but the rewards for connection are great.

It is only in community and in relationship, that we learn and grow and get our souls fed.

For more on this topic, check out my blog entry “Connection is Key.” (http://www.produceamazingresults.com/be-awake/connection-is-key/

Your homework is to “inventory” the communities that you are a part of.  How do they source you?  How do they support and create happiness for you?  What other communities might you join in order to fulfill your mission in life?

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Getting to What’s Important

Whether you believe in God, Allah, something else, or nothing at all, THIS IS IT.  This is your one life on this earth… the big question most of us ponder at some point in our lives is “now what do I do with it?”

Few people are born with the gift of knowing themselves inside-out, upside-down; really knowing who they are and what their gifts are.  Fewer still know how to take who they are and turn it into a life that makes a difference.  Yet, ALL OF US are capable of being more caring, more focused, more intentional and more faithful to whatever are our highest ideals.

Today, we will begin to explore a practical method for making one’s life a message of hope, love, and purpose… becoming the best YOU you can be… discovering what you were MADE to do.  Where we need to start is with what’s important.

Let’s start with your highest ideals.  What’s important to you?  Take a moment to jot down a list of all of the words that you can think of that are important to you.  Perhaps values like integrity, faith, generosity come to mind.  Maybe you are committed most to freedom, abundance, creativity or adventure.  There are no wrong answers; just list whatever comes to mind and don’t stop until your head is empty.

Now review that list and pull out your top 3-5 favorites.  Choose the words that speak most to you in THIS moment.  Don’t worry if some of your other favorites get left behind, you can come back to the list at a later date and claim them.  But for now, choose just 3-5 and write them at the top of a clean sheet of paper.  (Or, you may print the Mission Planning Tool form from this website under the tab “free tools.”)   These are your foundation values for your mission statement.  From here, we will begin to create a vision plan that will make it clear who you are and what you are up to in life. 

Across the top sheet of your paper are your foundation values.  Now jot down a list of all of the roles you play in life.  For instance, some of mine are: mother, daughter, wife, coach, business owner, Racinian, Christian, cook, PTA President, etc.  Again, keep listing until your mind is empty.  Now, go back and choose 3-5 roles that are most important to you.  Write these just under your values, or if you are using the Mission Planning Tool, in the “Roles” section.

Your homework before the end of the day is to create 4-5 statements using all of these words.  You obviously can add other descriptors; be creative and come up with sentences that describe who you would be in life if you were fully self-expressed in each of these areas.  For example, one sentence of one of my most recent client’s statements was:  “I am a symbol of security and an example of success and leadership to my family.”

This collection of sentences will make up your mission statement.  Between now and next Monday, your additional homework is to read your mission statement every night, last thing before bed and every morning, before you get up.

Remember: What you put in a mind, comes out in a life!