Tag: self improvement
One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
Whenever we’re in the midst of transformation, we can expect to be uncertain. We are leaving behind the old and preparing for the new. This blog post, an excerpt from my book, Professional Destiny, is the next installment of last week’s discussion about Moving Through the Void.
“Get comfortable with uncertainty—it’s the time of our greatest opportunity. A time when all possibilities are open to us. If we hold our vision and resolve to take a step toward it each day, we can be assured that great uncertainty only lasts for a while. This too shall pass.
Oftentimes even when we start our journey, our fear of failing returns and our hope of finding our purpose fades. We have no proof that things will turn out the way we want so we are hesitant, or even unwilling, to take the risk. Sometimes it takes a great deal of pain to get us motivated. Our fearful beliefs immobilize us and slowly but surely kill our spirit. We can feel ourselves being drawn back to the comfort of familiar territory—even though we haven’t been happy there for a long time. We become more anxious and wonder if we are crazy for wanting to do this.
Sometimes fear can be good. It can motivate us into action, especially if we fear our situation will get worse if we don’t act now. But it is not good when it paralyzes us from moving forward. This is the point when we look into the unknown, feel our fear, take a deep breath and step forward anyway. Do it even if you’re scared.
If you are willing to do the thing you are afraid to do, you often do not have to. Face the situation fearlessly and watch it dissipate.
Most things we worry about never actually happen. So worrying is an unproductive emotion that drains our energy and creative forces. Sometimes we just need to find humor in our fears.
The longer we stay in an unfulfilling and unchallenging situation, the more resigned we become—and the more we risk losing our individuality, unique gifts and edge.”
It’s essential to catch ourselves when we feel the urge to stay complacent. While change can involve letting go of things that are familiar, the cost of settling in an unfulfilling situation may greater than we originally think. So, while uncertainty might not feel good at the moment—get comfortable—it can open our eyes to things we wouldn’t normally see and may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
February 24, 2010
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d celebrate with a different type of blog post. It’s about being grateful. I discovered many years ago that being grateful is a magical force. It’s a gift to the person you’re grateful to and it has the unexpected benefit of being a huge gift to YOU!
If you think about it, it’s impossible to feel lousy and grateful at the same time! If you want to come out of a negative space—if you are feeling drained, or you’ve been in an upsetting situation—you can quickly change your outlook and how the rest of the day unfolds by thinking of all the wonderful things in your life (down to the tiniest detail) and saying thanks. Get serious about it and see for yourself if it isn’t true. Spend the first few minutes of your day giving thanks for the nice things that happened (a sincere smile in the grocery store, an unexpected surprise or a thoughful gesture) and see how your mood and outlook changes. And when they change, you’re ready to take on remarkable things.
As I mention in my book, Professional Destiny, your head is the home of rational thought and logic. Your heart is the home of intuition and your true essence. Both are essential, but in the day-to-day grind, it’s often easier to stay in your head. Gratitude and thanks are a path straight to your heart. They take you out of the mentality of right and wrong, good and bad, and an unsatisfying place of judgment. They put you in a more positive space and magnetize you to the great things in life—the things you want. When you give thanks, you attract more.
So as you prepare to celebrate on this day of Thanksgiving—spend an extra few moments to recognize even the smallest blessings—and see how good you feel.
November 26, 2009
When you’re in the midst of change, or venturing into unknown territory, it can be a fragile time—you’re in transition. I call this the incubational stage and it can take a little time to build yourself up. At this stage, you’re at a crucial, sometimes vulnerable, point and it’s important to surround yourself with people who support your vision. Think of yourself as a little seedling that has just sprouted—you’re full of potential, but still fragile, so you need to protect yourself from being trampled before you’re fully established. The best way to do this is to surround yourself with support and avoid the naysayers!
Naysayers can be people close to you. As I write in Professional Destiny, “There are people who support you and help you to feel empowered, positive and on the right track. When you are with them you feel supported and energized. Then there are people who operate from a negative space, the naysayers, the ones who bring you down. You’ll know them by the feeling you have when you are with them—you feel deflated, like the wind was just taken out of your sails. You feel drained when you are around them. Try to clearly identify the people who have your highest good in mind and surround yourself with them.”
Naysayers can also be business contacts. A friend of mine told me, “I was disheartened when I first moved to Austin. Everyone said Austin was harder to make it as an independent contractor than Dallas. I was more expensive. For almost a year I had to say ‘no, no and no’ to lowball compensations offers. It was almost a year, before I said yes. People didn’t value my service and didn’t want to pay me what I’m worth. An advisor asked me ‘why do you even stay when this happens? Get up and leave. I wouldn’t have the success I have today, if I stuck around with the naysayers.’ So, I chose to love myself and value my work, and leave. Now it has paid off.”
It’s hard enough staying on top of the fear, uncertainty and doubt that takes root in our own minds, so we certainly don’t need anyone else feeding it. When you’re fostering an idea, it’s such an incubational time that it’s critically important to block out the naysayers. If you allow the naysayers in, every time you listen to what they’re saying, you hand your power over and dishonor your gift. And, if you’re going to dishonor your gift, the question is do you really want to do what you love? To do what you love, you have to put your big girl (or big boy) pants on and honor your potential. This also means clearing the negative voices in your head, listening to your heart and marrying the two. In my book, I call this the “Killer Combo.” When you’re listening to your head AND your heart, you’re functioning as a more powerful force – you become so strong you deflect the naysayers and the negativity. Then you’re freed up to accomplish great things. Your heart gives your head the signal and you’re clear enough to do what you really love.
November 3, 2009
“Intuition teaches us from within. It is our unerring guide. In our heart there is the hint of the next step. You must remain attentive and receptive to all possibilities, even possibilities that don’t seem logical to you at the moment. It may be something simple, such as making a phone call or having the idea to set up an appointment with someone. Intuition is a great tool in your profession and in your life. It will give you a sense of who you can trust, who is ethical, who has your best interests at heart and who you should avoid altogether.” Excerpt from Professional Destiny—Discover the Career You Were Born For
Have you ever gone against your gut and made a hiring decision that sooner or later came back to bite you? Or gotten burned in a business deal because you ignored that little clause in the contract that nagged at you, and signed it anyway? Did you feel that deep down you knew better, but you did it regardless because all the “data” said it was the right thing to do?
Hiring based on resume, MBA and “qualifications” alone is only one part of the equation. That’s the stuff that looks good on paper. But looking good on paper doesn’t cover someone’s work ethic, ability to make the right decision under pressure or think out of the box—sometimes all it means is that they are great at taking tests.
In Professional Destiny, I talk about the difference between “head” and “heart.” Head—is the home of our rational thought and logic. Heart—is the home of our intuition (some also call it our gut). It is the source of our inspiration and guides us to new possibilities that would not be found by logic or planning.
In the workplace, intuition is especially useful for making all-important employee hiring decisions, or for choosing a business partner. For example, during the interviewing process some people are polished interviewers and present themselves well, but then turn out to be much less impressive when they’re on the job. Others are less polished, but you have an inexplicable sense they will be great contributors on a day-to-day basis. Often it all comes down to intuition. It’s an inexplicable sense that you have, but you often can’t pinpoint the reason.
When meeting with a person, if you suspect a possible flaw, note it, and don’t rationalize it away. Ask yourself if it is something you could live with. Keep two lists – one of qualifications (rational) and one of impressions (intuition). As I have practiced this technique over the years, I have found that my impressions almost always prove to be accurate (even more so than the “qualifications”). In fact, when I intuit the weakness (lack of eye contact at important questions, or a trace of defensiveness) it almost always plays out in bigger ways later. The only unpredictable variable seemed to be my judgment of how much, or how little, that “weakness” would impact the person’s performance in that particular role.
We are given the gifts of rationality and intuition, head and heart. Rationality helps us with survival, intuition helps us with breakthroughs that are genuine, unique and fresh. Having too much in the head, is just a cause for headaches! Find the harmony in the combination of head and heart, and you’ll uncover the most powerful mix.
October 19, 2009
One of my greatest joys is to meet people who are wholeheartedly embarking on their Professional Destiny—and Noi Wegiel is clearly one of them! Noi is the creator of exquisitely hand-crafted, Austin-made natural chocolate treats & delights. Each and every piece of her decadent chocolate is truly a work-of-art, with a pairing of flavors that is unforgettably delightful. She uses the finest ingredients mother nature has to offer and many of her products are organic, raw, sugar-free and gluten-free (although for the hard-core sugar enthusiasts, some are still sinful!). In addition, she holds a commitment to using ingredients from sustainable suppliers, and supports organic and natural living. Truly this is a case where you need to taste to fully experience her chocolate magic, but it’s fascinating and inspiring to hear Noi’s Professional Destiny story until that wonderful moment:
“I’m from Thailand, and I moved to the United States when I was 17. When I arrived here, I didn’t know how to cook at all. Because I didn’t speak English very well, the only job I could get was in the kitchen at a cafeteria-type restaurant. They put me in the pastry department and I learned—on the job—how to bake. Soon, I got interested in cakes. Every time I made a cake in the restaurant, I thought to myself, ‘this could be prettier.’ To learn more, I bought a book on sale about cake decorating. I was fascinated by learning the technique, but the book was from England and they used fondant (sugar paste) to cover the cake to make it smooth and beautiful. I couldn’t immediately find anyone here to teach me how to use fondant (I learn best by watching), but after a few years, I found someone to teach me how to professionally cover the cake and make the gorgeous, life-like flowers. After that, things seemed to take off. I believe that once the student’s ready, the teachers show up. I was so hungry (no pun intended) to learn more! I started finding tons of teachers who taught me how to decorate cakes, and within three years I became the teacher.
A number of years ago I had another turning point. I needed surgery and had to stay in bed for six weeks. Because I was bedridden, I couldn’t do anything but watch TV and read books. I read a book that changed my life—it was called “Sugar Blues.” It talked about how sugar affects people and is the cause of several medical problems. It was then that I started looking for classes to teach the healthy version of making beautiful desserts—and I become the student once again.
I studied conscious eating and built an awareness of using quality ingredients in the foods I prepare. I started checking labels and using organic and local sustainable ingredients whenever possible. The struggle I faced was that I had perfected the art of making pastries with traditional ingredients such as eggs, butter, milk, sugar, etc., but I still needed some work on how to make the new, healthy way taste even better. Not to mention that my friends and family thought it was weird to make desserts this way and didn’t really understand my quest!
I overcame the taste challenge by experimenting. I don’t tend to follow rules and this gives me creative power. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. When it works, I duplicate it. I record all of my successes and they become my recipes. Now all my chocolates are made with organic ingredients and most have delicious natural sweeteners such as agave and maple syrup.
My passion started with baking and pastry, then it changed to cake decorating, then food carvings and then chocolate. I’ve always believed that God wanted us to do whatever our passion is. We all have a unique ability and now my passion is chocolate and raw food. I love to eat good chocolate. I love creating it and discovering the way ingredients combine together to make something delicious, beautiful and tasty. My joy comes from seeing people light up when they eat something I create and when they ask, “how did you do that?!” Most of all, I know it’s healthier than what they can typically buy in the stores.
Most people do meditation while sitting and quieting their mind, I do mine in the kitchen. I tune into whatever I’m doing—preparing food, making cakes and pastries, and especially chocolate!
My advice to others is that it doesn’t matter what you do, just do it. You have to believe and do it with your heart. For each person it’s different—be responsible, but do what moves you. If you think something is your passion, go with it. If it works out, that’s great; if not, make a change and try again. Do what you love and savor life’s sweet moments.”
A sampling of Noi’s “heavenly bites” will to be available at my book signing tonight at BookPeople. Come and experience the bliss for yourself.
October 1, 2009
This is the story of Marcie Finney—a former ad designer turned entrepreneur of Seeds for Goodness, a fast-growing, eco-fashion brand that creates stylish, earth-friendly jewelry and adornments. It’s an inspiring Professional Destiny story of her choice to thrive, and make a difference.
“My entrepreneurial spirit started eight years ago. I had been working in an advertising agency, but knew it was time for me to go out on my own as a freelance designer. I loved my client interactions and wasn’t getting enough if it in the agency, so I struck out on my own. I do love design and it’s a gift. In particular, I love seeing an idea come to life. Yet, I always knew I’d do some-thing else, but I didn’t quite know what.
A clue was that when I was young, my friend and I teamed up in school and made necklaces. I even sold enough pieces to buy a pair of rollerblades! I always loved to make my own funky pieces, but that’s as far as it went.
Over and over again, people told me that they loved my usage of color. All of my work is colorful. In fact, if you don’t like color, you’re not going to come to me. I like vibrancy! My gift in the design sense is that I’m meant to bring color into whatever form I create.
Every year I take a trip to reflect. It’s a quiet time for me to ask myself: ‘What do I want? Where am I going?’ It’s necessary for me to pause and just get quiet. I went to Cabo and during that time, felt my life was going to shift. I knew it, but didn’t know what it was shifting to.
Unlike most people, I always wear my jewelry when I practice yoga. After Cabo, for two months straight, people would comment on a piece I was wearing. It was every day, everywhere I went—at yoga, at grocery stores, you name it. They’d say: ‘can I buy your jewelry online? Will you sell me the piece you’re wearing?’ I asked myself – ‘do I need to do anything with this?’
A month later my friend Tony called me and asked me what I was doing besides design. He told me ‘you need to pursue it, it’ll be huge… bigger than you think.’
Some of the best things come when you least expect it. I was going about my day and I suddenly got an intuitive message loud and clear. It was ‘you need to work with seeds.’ I didn’t really know what it meant, but I started to do research about seeds and I was blown away. The colors, the texture were unbelievable – and so me! The trumpets started playing!
I said ‘I’ll do it’ and the universal doors flew open. It’s been a little over a year journey now. Aveda became interested in my line and has become a large client. There are several retail locations where my jewelry is placed in Austin, and it’s expanding into Dallas. I can see the momentum – everything I stock in a store will sell out. I feel like it has a life of its own, and it’s a lot of work, but totally fulfilling.
Most exciting is that the name for my line literally came to me—“Seeds for Goodness.” I chose that name because in this world, we can get hardened—we may not recognize the goodness in our lives. I wanted to remind people. All good things start from something small and it was perfect that I was working with seeds. You have to nurture them; you have to let them grow. You can’t just walk away. You need to expect the goodness that lies inherent in the seed to grow. This is a greater symbol of who we are. We all are these amazing seeds that have so much potential within us, and we need to nurture that potential. For example, if we’re doing something we don’t really love—if we’re doing something just to exist—we’re not to thriving. Seeds are meant to thrive. So are we.”
September 14, 2009
Ever knew what you loved to do as a child, but then lost track of it as an adult? Here’s a story of rediscovery. It’s a reminder that sometimes finding your professional passion may simply be a matter of remembering what you love and taking the leap of faith to do it. Today’s entry is the compelling story of Shelley Seale, one of the first nominations submitted as a Professional Destiny “Hero.” It’s a story of her journey from childhood writer, to real estate broker, and back to writer—as a successfully published author.
“I started my career in real estate, although I definitely had a passion for writing long before that. Because I was the first child for my parents and grandparents, everyone read to me. I loved hearing the words and stories. My earliest memory of writing was around age eight when I wrote dorky little books and published them. It was my hobby. My great grandmother lived in a nursing home and I would go to there and hear the most amazing stories. For example, one woman, probably in her eighties, had been a prima ballerina in the Moscow ballet. She told me about her fascinating life, and others would as well. I wrote each person’s story on a pad of paper, then would illustrate and bind it, and bring my newly published “book” to my new friend in the nursing home.
All this time, it never occurred to me that writing was a practical choice for a career. I couldn’t see myself making a living as a writer, so I never really considered it.
When I was in college, I started working in a real estate firm. One of the positions I wanted required me to have a real estate license, so I got one. I then launched into a career I would have for the next 15 years without a whole lot of thought. Looking back I would say that real estate chose me as a profession… I didn’t really choose it. I was making pretty decent money so I stayed in it.
I started writing articles about buying and selling homes for real-estate journals. People began to contact me and ask to re-use what I had written. For example, I wrote an article about how to ease the trauma for children in a move, and a mental-health-related website contacted me wanting to license the article for their publication. It was validating for me and it reawakened my love for writing.
It got so that I would rather write articles about real estate than actually show houses! When I started realizing that I enjoyed writing more than managing my business, I began to ask myself, “Why should I spend hours of my time doing what I’m not passionate about when I could do I AM passionate about?”
Writing was what inspired me, the other was just work… I considered it a chore. I knew I not only could write, but that I should. Otherwise it would be another 40 years of doing something I didn’t love. There are people out there who spend 40 or 50 years doing jobs they hate—I didn’t want to be one of them.
So I ramped up and began actively contacting publications. I first wrote about real estate because that’s what I knew, then started branching out. Soon I was writing about other topics such as owning a business, small business management and entrepreneurship—which were also things I knew. Then I expanded to write about other industries—technology, healthcare, travel, education. Over a period of several years I phased-in writing and phased-out real estate, until I finally flip-flopped careers. It took about five years.
I got involved with non-profits and wrote an article about Caroline Boudreaux for Austin Women’s magazine. This led me to India where the idea for my recent book, The Weight of Silence, was born.
What were the obstacles I faced? I could make twice as much money in real estate as I do now, but I would be doing something I only tolerated, not what I loved. To me it’s worth it.
The benefit I’ve realized is even greater. I’m no longer compartmentalizing my life. Before it felt like the work I did was partitioned from who I was as a person. For so many people it’s: here’s your job, here’s your family time, here’s your hobby – they are compartmentalized as if they have no relation to each other. Now my life is integrated. My work doesn’t feel like work, because it’s part of who I am, not simply what I do. I have more of a focus on things that matter.
My advice to others wanting to make this change is to stay dedicated and persevere. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a commitment to pursue your passion. At times it would have been a lot easier to stay in real estate but I wouldn’t have been as happy.”
Have your own story of a career change that tapped into your gifts and allowed you to do what you love? Send in a comment and share your experience with others.
August 26, 2009
Most corporations don’t practice the principles of Professional Destiny. That is, they don’t actively seek out the gifts of their employees and adjust their responsibilities to ensure that they thrive. The focus needs to be on maximizing people’s strengths, not spending the majority of time developing an individual’s weaknesses. As I wrote in Professional Destiny, a person’s gift may be “spiky.” Meaning they are incredibly good at one, two or three things as opposed to being well-rounded in many things. Weaknesses should be acknowledged and developed just enough so that they don’t hold a person back or get in the way of progress. But beyond that, there is a diminishing rate of return on the effort spent in trying to strengthen them. The focus on improving weaknesses should only be “to keep you in the game.” The things that an individual and the company are good at, are where to focus. It will pay off in both employee satisfaction and company performance.
It takes a very enlightened leader to pull off a personalized approach within a corporate framework. They must see the gifts of the individuals and match those gifts to a position (that may not quite fall in the standardized “job description”) and within the structure of the organization. It requires the leader to think out of the box, take risks and figure out how to pull it all together. It is in no way a cookie-cutter approach. Most companies stifle this type of flexibility.
As companies grow, they begin to focus on standardization and the force the homogenization of their people. They stifle creative thinking and alienate people from their gifts. As I have found through my years in the corporate world, few people are inspired to do their best work when they are forced into a box. When people are fully engaged and use their natural gifts, they do their best work. And, when people do their best work, companies achieve breakthrough results.
Perhaps we should all remember that homogenization is best for milk, not for people!
August 18, 2009
One of the things I’m most excited about doing with this blog is sharing stories of people who have made the leap from an unfulfilling job into their life’s work. Work that makes them feel alive and makes a difference. Whatever jobs these people held, or what careers they discovered, there are valuable and inspirational lessons for all of us in how they came to discover their own gifts and make the move to a career that was deeply rewarding.
Caroline Boudreaux (left) in front of an orphanage she is building
In my book, I include people such as Mark Misage (an aspiring engineer who felt ambivalent about his major and bucks tradition to become a nationally recognized high school physics teacher), Caroline Boudreaux (a successful TV account executive, who at 29 had everything except happiness, and then found herself transforming the lives of thousands of Indian orphans by starting the Miracle Foundation), and Trevor Romain (who fought the odds of dyslexia and being told he had no writing and drawing talent as a child, to become a bestselling author, speaker and illustrator of children’s books). Those who make bold moves like these are Professional Destiny Heroes.
Inspirational stories like this are all around us, so let’s expand the conversation and share the stories of others who have made this journey. If you know someone, please nominate them today. It could be you, any “everyday” person or someone famous. Just leave a brief comment in this blog explaining what your Professional Destiny Hero has done. Please include contact information. I will be writing a blog post featuring these heroes every week or so, along with my other topics, and I’d love to include the most inspirational stories.
Think about how you’d answer the following questions (for you or another person you’re nominating) and include as much colorful detail as you can:
- Do you consider yourself to be doing your life’s work? How is it different from a “job?” (See earlier blog post about the differences between a job and life’s work).
- Why did you choose this profession? Did it require a change?
- What obstacles (doubts, fears, setbacks) did you have to overcome?
- What signs/encouragement did you get to show you were on the right path?
- Do you feel that you are making a difference?
- What have you learned and what advice do you have for others?
That’s it. I hope this will be a fun, rich experience that will help to inspire and motivate others. I look forward to hearing from you!
August 7, 2009