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Monthly Archives: November 2009

Giving Thanks – Taking Stock

This Sunday, we buried my father-in-law. He died suddenly, out of the blue, in a matter of minutes. His body just shut down, and he left the planet. He had been in a nursing home for only 6 weeks.


As with any major event in one’s life, a death in the family creates a gap in space and time, in which you’re pushed to take stock, and look long and hard at your own life to see where it’s heading and the impact it’s having.


Watching the end point of life unfold, some things went through my mind about life, and what it is to live a “successful” one.


Here’s what came to me:


1) Our lives are a vast accumulation of all that we’ve said, done, made others feel, encouraged others to do, and of what we’ve left behind – fragments of energy and light that have made a mark.


2) Success in life can be determined by answering these questions – “Did you, by and large, experience joy, love and support, give it in return? Did you learn (and overcome) what you came here to learn? And did your life have a positive impact?


3) When you leave the planet, will you be missed? If so, it’s probably because of cherished qualities you helped others see in themselves (their beauty, value, brilliance, capability, goodness) that they couldn’t see on their own.


4) Finally, what’s the meaning of life? I certainly don’t have the answers, but I do know this…we have this precious chance, these 80 or so years, to live life full out, without regrets, without shame, without reservation — to experience all of the life, love, joy, passion, and courage we can, and to be all that we came here to be.


I’m determined not to waste this chance.


Wishing you and yours a joyous Thanksgiving.

You Are Where You Are – and You’re Moving Up

I’ve had some interesting revelations this week about my business as it is today, and about those individuals with whom I resonate best and most, and where I dream to take my work in the next five years.


Here’s what I realized:


1) I am where I am – that feels good


After an 18-year corporate career that was outwardly very “successful” but inwardly a deep and long-lasting struggle, I spent eight years reinventing and transformed to a new professional identity I love.  I then became an “expert” and advocate of women’s reinvention, because that’s exactly what I’d done well –  breaking through the 12 “hidden” crises working women face today, and reclaiming my life.  I conducted a national research study with over 100 women to learn more about how to break through crisis and transform, and I wrote a book about it to help others do the same.  It’s been all about breaking through.


2) But now I want to go somewhere else – and that feels better


Now, however, I want something else, something more than breakthrough, to offer others.  I consider myself “successful” both inwardly and outwardly, but now I am committed to ABUNDANT success – tremendous, free-flying, fantastic success (in key dimensions that matter to me) that blows my socks off with joy, fulfillment and empowerment.  I’m committed to creating a fantastically successful life and career.  I have new dreams – clear, crisp, and shiny.


To create/achieve that, I need more – more of myself, more knowledge, more insight, more strength, more energy, more perspective, more focus, and more risk.  To access that in myself, I’m doing what I love best to inspire me, yet again.  I’m reaching out to women I admire deeply – those who consider themselves abundantly success on their terms – and I’m learning from them.  I’ve found there are no better teachers than those you respect and admire who are doing what you’d like to, how you’d like to do it.


This week, I launched a new national research study Women Succeeding Abundantly – How and Why They Do It, and already, after just two interviews – Shama Kabani and Janet Hanson –  my socks have been blown off.  Why?  Because what I expect to hear from folks who’ve achieved something that I admire, is never what I end up hearing and learning.  It’s all very new and different from what I assumed.  (Stay tuned for more on these powerful interviews).


It reminds me of a conversation I had with my sister when she was in high school and I in middle school.  She was imparting to me her pearls of wisdom about dating and popularity, and told me that where people stood in the dating pool resembled being on a rung of a big, universal ladder – you are where you are, but you want to date someone who is one rung higher than you (that’s the dream anyway).  And you don’t want to go down a rung on your ladder!


Funny, I feel like I’m on a ladder – not one about popularity or “hierarchy” but an “energetic” ladder representing where I am and where I want to go.  I’m standing on my rung, arms outstretched, reaching toward my next rung – my future self — and am looking up, smiling and breathless.  I’m seeing on this new rung other tremendously successful and empowered women who have carved out a BIG life on their terms, and are loving it and making it work abundantly. 


These women are having fantastic success in the key aspects of their lives that they care most about – whether that’s family, home, personal, professional, financial, relationships, well-being, creativity, intimacy, contribution  – you name it, they’re doing it.  These women don’t subscribe to the notion that they can’t have it all – they simply don’t see it that way.  They believe in choosing to commit to the areas that mean the world to them, and then they going after these goals/outcomes with boundless gusto and commitment.


The lesson for me in all of this is – At any given moment, each of us is vibrating at certain energetic “level” that brings to us and creates in our lives exactly what we’re ready for, deep-down.  But then – suddenly and inexplicably — we want more and we want different, and we’re ready to create it.


So it’s time.  I want to step up to the next rung of the ladder of my life, to create abundant success.  I’m ready for the chin-up.  Are you?  Yes!!  Please come up with me!


Question of the week: What do you feel you’re ready for now – what’s your next “rung?”  What do you see for yourself and your life when you step onto that rung?  And will you commit to stepping up to it now?

“We’d Rather Die Than Be Divided”

This past Wednesday, I attended a very powerful and moving event in Greenwich, CT, hosted by 85 broads.  It was an inspiring forum and gathering of trailblazing women, all of whom want to make a difference – no matter how small or large — in the world around them. 


Whether they’re impacting law, finance, politics, technology, corporate policy, fashion, or non-profit, each attendee has a dream to not only succeed abundantly, but also help other women and impact the world in the process. 


Marie Wilson — President and Founder of The White House Project was the featured speaker, and my God, what a powerful individual, women’s advocate , and speaker she is.  She shared many riveting stories and vital information about the state of women in political leadership today, and how sorely lacking the U.S. is in representation of women in leadership. 


The story that touched me most deeply, however, was about a group of young girls, 12 years of age or so, in Rwanda.  Marie tells of these girls who were gathered together in their classroom in school, when suddenly insurgents crashed into their classroom with guns flying, and demanded that the girls divide themselves (ostensibly for the purpose of selecting who would be killed and who spared). 


The girls sat completely motionless, saying nothing.  The gunman screamed again, “DIVIDE YOURSELVES!”  Again the girls did not move or speak.  After a few long moments, one lone little girl replied, “We would rather die than divide ourselves.”


The moment I heard this story, I realized something that shook me.  We in this country divide ourselves constantly – we make others wrong, we judge and criticize, and put ourselves above others (or beneath them), we distance ourselves and create walls around us – as a constant practice.


What is needed most today — among women and among all human beings — is connection, community and commitment.  Connection – so that we can feel more for each other’s experiences, and can demonstrate compassion, empathy and validation.  Community –  because we can do so much more together than we can do alone, and being together uplifts us.  And finally – commitment.  It doesn’t matter what you “want” in life – what matters is what you’re truly committed to creating.


“We would rather die than be divided.”  That’s a principle that I am now committed to living by.


Thank you, Marie Wilson, and Janet Hanson of 85 Broads for reminding us that community, connection, and commitment changes the world.


What are you committed to creating in your life, and where can you find connection and community to support you?

How to Make Decisions That Are Ultimately Right for You

My wonderful coaching clients ask me frequently, “How do I know if this is the right step?  I’m just so confused.” 


To get clear on the next step to take that will be ultimately beneficial for you, answer these three questions first, then move on the path to making your decision.


There are three powerful questions before you address any significant decision:


1) Do you have enough information to make this decision?  If not, get it.

2) Is it the right time to make this decision – if not, then wait.  If so, take the steps listed below.

3) How important is this decision?  If it’s not at all important to your life, stop agonizing, and use your gut to tell you what direction to go in, and just do something.


If the time is right to make your decision, and you have enough information to do it, then follow this process:

1) Shift your mindset about decisions and next steps


First, disengage yourself from needing to believe that there is an ultimate “right” outcome to anything.  There isn’t.  Life is a cycle, a process, a flow, not a final destination.  You’ll never “get there.”  It’s all about experiencing life fully, NOW, and loving it.  Forget about outcome, and look at “process” – explore what you think this step will bring to you, along with the process of living that this step will allow you to engage in.  In other words, will this next step encourage you to grow, stretch, be excited, enlivened, and expand yourself?  If so, there’s a great deal of benefit in it.


2) How does it make you feel to consider it?


In my marriage and family therapy training, one professor said that “feeling” is the “F” word – because a therapist and client talking just about feelings can be a slippery slope of not leading to any interventions that truly help a person move forward.


In this case, however, gaining awareness of how you feel is vitally important.  Watch yourself as you explore this next step or potential decision.  Do you feel energized, excited, with your heart beating?  Or do you feel like taking a nap, exhausted, depressed and hopeless.  How you feel, and the shifts in your energy level when you’re evaluating a potential decision are highly indicative of what your heart and soul really want to do.


3) Look at what holds you back – is it all fear-based?


Write out all the pros and cons to the decision you’re facing.  Then look at the cons…are they all fear-based (“what if”, anxiety-ridden thinking)?  If so, you’re most likely getting stuck in your limited beliefs and ego-based thinking that tell you that you simply can’t embrace this challenge or step because you’ll fail or the unknown is too scary.  The unknown doesn’t have to be scary – if you embrace it as a way to be more of yourself.


4) What does your intuition/gut tell you to do?


Decisions are best made when you combine logical, linear thinking with intuitive-based wisdom that comes from a higher place.  Your logical thinking helps you identify all the pros and cons (see #3) from an intellectual perspective, but your intuition has a farther-reaching view, one that sees a bigger picture of who and where you truly want to go, and what you’re capable of. 


Get in closer touch with your internal guiding wisdom and intuition.  Start today by developing a deeper inner dialog.  Ask questions of yourself on a continual basis, and listen for the answers, then follow them!.  Begin by asking simple “yes” or “no” questions (should I take this route or that one to get to my destination, should I stop here or wait a bit, etc.), and begin hearing what your intuition tells you.  Find the place in your body where your feel your intuition most (your gut, throat, back of your neck, heart, etc.) and begin incorporating the messages of your intuition in every decision you make.


Ultimately, each decision you make is the right one, because you made it, and you did your best at the time, and because it inevitably led to something that was important for you to experience.  Going forward, make your decisions with fuller awareness, choice, and a belief that everything you experience will ultimately lead to something greater in yourself.  Then, every decision will feel like (and be) the right one. 


If you have a decision to make today: get the info you need, don’t make limiting assumptions about what you’re capable of, do your best, stop worrying, and start living.


Question of the week: What decisions have you made that at first seemed to be a mistake, but later opened up great new possibilities for you?

When to Take Things Personally, and When Not To?

This week, two ongoing clients of mine simply forgot they were scheduled for a coaching session, and just didn’t call.  When talking to them later, they apologized profusely, with sincere embarrassment, and told me they were crashingly busy, and their week got away from them  — they simply forgot (or had forgotten to write it down).


When stuff happens in my life — in twos and threes like this — I like to try to wrap my head around if there’s something for me to learn or do differently, or if it’s just a random occurrence not worthy of any major evaluation or analysis.  After all, sometimes in life (as a friend of mine likes to say), “A butterfly is just a butterfly!”


In this case, I think there is something to look at…that perhaps making time for self-examination and self-discovery is a bit daunting in the face of everything else going on for these folks this week.    Perhaps an “I forgot” really means, “I can’t take this in, this week. I’m just not up for it.  I will be ready again soon, but not this week.”  And I really get that.


What would be even more beneficial for each of us would be if we able to grow in our awareness of this feeling, and say out loud, “I’m a bit overwhelmed right now, and can’t tackle anything extra this week.”  After all, we all have moments/periods like that.  There’s no shame in it.


To answer my own question, then, do I take these types of occurrences personally (that a few folks are forgetting to call in on a given week?)  Actually, no, I don’t (please let me know if you think I’m crazy!)  Per the powerful Four Agreements, by don Miguel Ruiz, I work on avoiding taking things personally, because it gives me greater freedom not to, and an increased ability to keep an open heart and mind.  After all, whatever you want and need is up to you, as is the way you choose to communicate it.  And I’m going to try to not take any of it personally.


Question of the day: What do you take really personally, and what can you just let go of instead?  I’d love to hear your views.


Here’s to letting it all go, and feeling freer to just be ourselves and letting others do the same.

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