An Opportunity in Disguise

It’s only failure if you don’t learn from the experience

I recently completed my six-month evaluation and it has been a year of terrific growth. However, no assessment is complete without looking at how you got there. The road here has not been smooth. In fact, it’s had a lot of ups and downs, that’s true for everyone. But what’s amazing is that where I am now would not have been possible without those trials and tribulations. Opportunities often come disguised as failures.

In the past, I leveraged an interest in marketing into a position as a brand manager, developed a top-rated podcast, managed an international call centre that made $3 million on a single event, and helped clients become confident presenters and meeting facilitators. Yet, there were times I wondered if I’d wasted my life. There were times when I felt absolutely worthless and that I couldn’t go on. Nevertheless, in the last six months, I’ve become a professional writer, started an online coaching business and developed my own website. All the while adding a group of successful people to both my personal and professional networks. And I’m just getting started.

It’s not where you have been that matters, it’s where you are going.

What I’ve learned from these experiences is that life prepares us for what comes next. We may not be able to see what lies ahead. But God knows. Living with trust and faith (regardless of who or what you believe in) I can accept that everything I experience is getting me ready for what comes next. Bruce Lee said, “be like water.” Living that way reveals possibilities.

Viewing my past experiences as valuable lessons for my future allows me to continue growing, and living the entirety of my life without regret. Of course, there are things I wish I could’ve done better, but I can’t do them better. They’ve already been done. But going forward, I can learn how to be more thoughtful in similar situations.No regrets, only lessons to be learned.

This philosophy gives me a different perspective on life’s challenges than many have. When a friend is sad about the passing of someone close to them, I say: “You’re lucky to have had that person in your life.” When looking back on losing a job, I say: ”I’ve contributed all I could to that company. It’s time to make new ripples.” If a colleague is apprehensive about their future, I say: “What can you do today to make your tomorrows better?”

You see, the future is what you create with your present actions. When you choose to binge watch TV all weekend or focus on what is happening in the news, you are choosing to let others control your mind and heart. When you go for a walk in nature and experience your surroundings or spend time discussing how to solve meaningful dilemmas, you are deciding to expand your skills and abilities of perception. Make meaningful decisions.

Not every day is sunny

Days that seem the worst are actually some of the best, in reflection. There were days I felt that I hadn’t accomplished anything. On a recent Monday, no to-do’s were crossed off my list, a new project without clear objectives was added to my responsibilities, and a night out with friends was cancelled.

Looking back at the end of the week I realized when no to-do’s were crossed off I actually moved a couple projects forward and then was able to complete them by the end of the week. The new project dumped in my lap was to develop a personality assessment. In this project, I will use the knowledge and skills I have developed in several of my past jobs and assignments all on one project. Then Wednesday night my boss asked me to do a presentation for one of our top clients on Friday (just three days later). It’s a good thing the plan to meet with my friends was rescheduled. I might not have had time to work on the presentation and gone out. The point is, I did accomplish things that week. But I didn’t see those accomplishments would be possible on Monday until I reframed them in my mind. In retrospect, it actually was a fantastic week!

We warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how. — Paulo Coelho

Just put it out there

If there is one takeaway from all of this, it is to seek opportunity. That is how we truly grow and are presented with the experiences that will make us better people. Don’t wait for the stars to align, they never will. Don’t doubt your own skill or abilities. The tools you need to succeed will find you. Don’t get discouraged when you get downsized or fired. It’s time for something new. Have a dream, make a long term goal, expect the unexpected and believe with all your mind and heart that it is possible. Finally, look at each detour as a learning experience. Though they may come disguised as problems or failures, your dreams will find you. Be ready.

This post originally appeared in ILLUMINATION

5 Reasons to Work With a Coach

Are you stalled-out in achieving your goals? Have you come to a dead-end and don’t know what to do next? If so, a professional coach could be the answer. While you may find yourself wrestling with the idea of paying for something you should be able to do yourself, there are distinct advantages to hiring someone to help you achieve a higher level of success. Here are five reasons to work with a coach.

  1. A coach will take you farther, faster than you could go on your own. 

Coaches have already seen the pitfalls you are experiencing, they have made the mistakes and learned the lessons. As a result, a good coach will help you navigate your way around those obstacles and reduce missteps that could slow your progress by months or years.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear 

– Bruce Lee

  1. A coach will give you objective feedback 

There is no reason for a coach to sugarcoat your feedback. That does not drive results. Instead, they will tell you what they see based on your explanation of the situation and elicit information that will enhance your understanding of what you are experiencing and how to grow from it.

  1. A coach will not let you live a life of excuses 

Coaches are paid for success, your success. If you are not moving the needle, they are not being effective. As a result, a personal development coach is firm but fair. They want you to succeed. Sometimes it may seem like they want it more than you, but in reality, they want it FOR you.

To excel at the highest level — or any level, really — you need to believe in yourself, and hands down, one of the biggest contributors to my self-confidence has been private coaching. – Stephen Curry

  1. A coach will understand your situation better than friends or family

Because your coach is a confidant, they will have a clearer picture of your motivation and characteristics that both help you to succeed and appear to sabotage your efforts. Your coach will keep your information confidential and spend time searching for solutions for you, using their experience and network.

  1. A coach is paid to focus on you and your success

 Your coach is invested in you, just as you invest in them. To keep you moving up that slope, they will be thinking long and hard about how to help you, not just while you are in front of them but continuously. That kind of service comes at a price, but its value is immeasurable. After all, two can achieve much faster than one.

A self-taught man usually has a poor teacher and a worse student. 

– Henny Youngman

 

If you are ready to unlock the power to be your best or see the finish line but do not know how to get there, consider hiring a professional coach. Trust that you can achieve your vision. Then find the best people and tools to help you get there. Working with a coach could end up being the best investment you have ever made.

The Power of Silence

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Everything that’s created comes out of silence. Your thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Your words come out of this void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. – Wayne Dyer

Overstimulation is a big problem in today’s switched on, tuned in, and notification distracted world. It’s enough to make you blow a fuse. In fact, as Dr. Dyer’s quote above implies, you need silence to be creative, find your voice, and maintain your mental health. In their 2013 study, Is Silence Golden?  Imke Kirste, Zeina Nicola et al. found that neurons actually increase with prolonged exposure to silence. That means, to a degree, you get smarter and reduce the risk of mental illness as you improve your ability to use silence.

When your mind is receiving so many inputs that there is little time for processing information. The result is your mental filters cannot function correctly, and you begin to lose your sense of self. Quietly sitting in reflection, even for a few moments, can help you to process the situation, your options for solving problems, and makes you more creative too.

Be alone — that is the secret of invention: be alone, that is when ideas are born. – Nikola Tesla

Stillness has the power to focus you in on the moment, on dreams and possibilities, allowing you to more deeply understand your environment, the situation, and your place within those. That stillness helps you to find balance in an otherwise chaotic world.

Silence is also a great communication tool. In a negotiation, for instance, silence after an initial offer may lead your less skilled counterpart to think you are unhappy with their proposal and have them countering offering in a way that is more beneficial for you. This is called negotiating against yourself.

Silence allows us to see and hear what we might otherwise miss. Things like facial expressions and body language, for example, tell us a lot about what others are thinking and feeling. We can then respond in a calm and insightful manner. All we need is to do it be silent and observant.

6 tips to more effectively incorporate silence into your daily routine.

Listen

Listen to your environment. Whether it is inside or out, what sounds do you hear? Are the rhythms fast or slow? Are the frequencies high or low? Is that bird singing to his flock or his love? Slowing down and listening makes you mindful of the here and now. Once you are in the moment, you can think clearly. We can’t change the past or the future, we only control the present. So, be focused on what you can do right now and its impact on the future.

Journal

Write down whatever comes to your mind. This gives voice to your right brain. The silent partner is waiting for their opportunity to speak a chance to do so. Set a time limit and be consistent. This habit will help your mind to autonomously prepare to communicate with the paper.

Music

Pick one of your favorite pieces of music and listen to it for the details. Are you able to pick out the instruments? Can you identify the emotion the artists are expressing? 

Imagine being in the recording studio and hearing that for the first time. This will bring out a deeper aspect to the music than you may have ever experienced.

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music. ― Aldous Huxley

Mindfulness

Even if you are new at creating mindfulness experiences, you can achieve more control of your situation when you are entirely present in the hush of the moment. Imagine there is no future and no past. Think that all you have is now. Then use that context to view what is happening around you and make decisions that lead to a better future.

Brown and Pink Noise

Why it is not technically silence, brown noise with its low frequencies sounds like a rushing river and pink noise, which sounds like rain or rushing leaves, create a sense of relaxation that is good for turning your thoughts inward.

Get off the grid

Even if it is for just a few minutes, turn off the Wi-fi and the notifications. Then be completely present in the physical world, only you, your thoughts, and your feelings. Spend a few moments, or hours, with your favorite person…You.

Our minds need rest. We need the silence between the notes to make the music beautiful. To put what happens around us into context and to enjoy the lives we have. Give your mind the gift of occasional silence.

What to do When You’re Trapped at Home

Don't just sit at your desk all day

10 Tips for keeping sane while staying at home

 

Regardless how comfortable your space is, it’s no fun having to self-quarantine.

While the world is on lockdown and you are forced to stay at home, a mixture of emotions is probably sweeping over you. At first, you may be feeling excitement at not having to go into the office. Later as the time spent in isolation lengthens, distractions will try your patience as the kids run around the house with pent up energy. Or maybe you’ll feel the urge to give in to your dog’s joy of having you home 24/7. Eventually, however, boredom with the selection from your favorite streaming service will creep in. Don’t take things lying down. Consider this time as a gift.


The earth is using this opportunity to heal itself. Drastic reductions in flights, factory production, and motorists have all resulted in fewer greenhouse gasses in addition to cleaner air and water. Though experts say the results may be short-lived, cities like Venice, Los Angeles, and Beijing are dramatically cleaner for the time being. We should be looking for ways to improve our quality of life too. 


Regardless of your situation, some things are out of your control, such as the regulations requiring you to stay home or the stall in the economy. So it is time you took some action with the things that are in your control. Here are ten ways to stay sane while staying at home.

  • Read a personal development book – There is no time like now to work on becoming a better version of yourself. An hour or two every day of reading or listening to audiobooks will allow you to get through that book during your lockdown. Here are some of my personal favorites.
    • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephan Covey
    • Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
    • The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
    • The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
    • Difficult Conversations – Bruce Patton, Douglas Stone, and Sheila Heen
  • Clean your living space – A clean space brings happiness and according to feng shui, good fortune. Take the time to clean out the dust, get rid of stuff you have long since forgotten, and vacuum behind the TV. You will breathe easier, knowing that your life is slightly more organized and dust-free.
  • Exercise – Whether you practice with online videos, have your own routine, or do simple exercise from your living room, getting some kind of physical workout will help you lose weight, improve your circulation and release your feel-good endorphins.
  • Find ways to support local businesses and do some volunteer work – Spread goodness by helping others. Some of the ideas I have seen recently include giving away some of your extra supplies, cooking for neighbors, supporting local businesses by purchasing their gift cards, ordering takeout, or even starting a campaign to help your local restaurants offer meals to those in need.
  • Send thank-you notes – Now is the time to be grateful for the people you have in your life. Send a brief thank-you note or email. It’s a simple way to show your gratitude to the people in your life.
  • Move back burner projects to the front – Take some time to work on those back-burner projects. They are on your list for good reasons. So, using this time to make some real progress on them will help you to get ahead.
  • Resolve to be positive – No reason to be negative in times like these. Turn off the news, avoid drama and paranoia. Put a positive spin on everything. On the other side of this pandemic will be opportunities. Do what you can to set yourself up to win.
  • Have longer conversations – Take some time to interact with your friends and family, either face to face or virtually. Enjoy one of the benefits of slow life: long, drawn-out conversations about everything and nothing.
  • Reconnect – Take time to reconnect with people from your past who have been influential to you. Talk about the impact they have had on your life, about old times, and what is happening now. You will be surprised how quickly the past melts away.
  • Journal, blog, or just write – This is an excellent time to produce your own content. Let yourself reveal those words you’ve always longed to say. Create something new, analyze your past, or just write creative material like poetry, a short story, or a novel.

Above all, find a way to get and stay positive. These tips will help you to do this, but you may want to avoid negativity as well. Stop watching the news and use the World Health Organization’sCOVID live stats, or your national Center for Disease Control’s website to get the facts on what is happening. Find a way to laugh and a reason to smile. Avoid doomsday topics and negative Nellies. Instead, invite positivity and possibility into your home. They are always happy to see you. Then once you are feeling that sense of optimism, share it with the world. We could all use a good dose of that right now.

5 Ways to Recharge Your Mind

Ideas to re-eneggize

Do yourself a favor and hit the reset button

 

Life is demanding. You are simultaneously being pulled in several different directions that can create a high level of stress and a low level of accomplishment. Whether you have a minute or an hour to replenish, these five strategies will help you to refocus, re-energize and win the day.

Practice Mindfulness
Take a couple of minutes to concentrate on your surroundings. Listen to the various sounds. Close your eyes and form a picture in your mind’s eye. Pan and zoom around your environment, focusing on the actions associated with the individual patches of activity, then collectively like a symphony. Take in the details and use your imagination to create a vivid picture. Consider that everyone and everything is in the same moment, yet the experiences are all so different. Do this for three to five minutes and you will be more atune to the work in front of you.

When you wash your hands, when you make a cup of coffee, when you’re waiting for the elevator – instead of indulging in thinking, these are all opportunities for being there as a still, alert presence. – Eckhart Tolle

Take a catnap
When you feel that you have no more solutions or the distractions start to creep in after less and less productive time, it is time for a nap. Even the shortest of naps can leave you feeling refreshed and ready for action. I usually set my timer for five or ten minutes. That is enough time to create a disconnect between where you are mentally and what lies ahead, allowing you to completely change the way you perceive the situation when you return to it.

There is more refreshment and stimulation in a nap, even of the briefest, than in all the alcohol ever distilled. – Ovid

Reset your plan
Take inventory of what you have accomplished, the tasks that are in progress, and what is left to do. Then create a new plan of attack for the rest of your day. You may find priorities have changed, and it is better to reassign some work to other days or even look for ways to delegate it. Reprioritizing will help you to utilize your time more effectively, allowing you to concentrate on the 20% of work that gets you 80% of the results.

Your job, as a professional, is to transform big assignments into smaller achievable pieces, prioritize them, then get them done at a high level.

Appreciate yourself
This strategy creates a sense of accomplishment, and you can feel that you are making real progress, no matter how small. Take five minutes to think about what you have accomplished so far today. Next, ask your self these questions and, if possible, document your answers so that you can look at them later as part of a bigger picture.

  • What have you crossed off your list?
  • For the tasks you haven’t, how much progress have you made?
  • How much is left to do?
  • What went well?
  • Why?
  • What could you have done better?
  • How?

Then, regardless of the results, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

Take some me time to refocus
Get up out of the chair and look out the window or across the room. Changing your focus and point of view reduces eyestrain. It also helps you to push the mental reset button, clearing your mind, and providing a new context for old problems.

Wherever you work and whatever you do, using these techniques will help you to digest what you have been working on and enhance your mental alertness. That will help you to get things done faster and more effectively than grinding. So, the next time you are looking for the solutions to a challenging problem, clear those mental hurdles by pushing the reset button with one of these techniques.