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I recently took a few classes in Tae Kwon Do, the martial art originating in Korea.

 

I gotta admit, I took them because of a Jason Stratham movie. Well, not so much because of the movie, but rather what I saw in the movie – the quiet confidence both lead characters had knowing they could defend themselves and those they loved. It was that confidence that finally motivated me to explore martial arts, something I wanted to do for a while.

 

But I was surprised by what I experienced in my first class.

 
Ying_yang_sign

Shortly after I walked in, I saw two students quickly moving through their forms (a pattern of motion). Their speed and movement was aggressive, and I immediately felt myself draw back thinking that this is not what I wanted. I am not an aggressive person.

 

During the class, there were many times when we were supposed to forcefully vocalize a sound to accompany our motions. This felt almost impossible for me to do, and if I made the sound 5% of the time, that was a lot. But making this sound was important. It provided additional power to the movement and I felt the difference it made when I did it. Still, I struggled.

 

Feeling my power with this much intensity was new to me. Striking. Hitting. Defending. Kicking. It was not who I am. I am more peaceful.

 

But the practice of all martial arts is not about striking, hitting, or kicking. It’s about owning your power, feeling your power, being confident that you know how to use it, and most importantly, consciously choosing when to use it.

 

By the end of the class I felt quite different having accessed that part of me that is so powerful and feeling what it was like to not be afraid of what I am capable of. Just like the movie, I felt more confident. I noticed I was standing taller and felt more firmly grounded when I walked.

 

Even after just one class, I had a greater understanding of the quiet confidence I sought – It is one thing to know and have access to your power. It is an entirely different thing to actually use it.

 

Don’t be afraid of either, for I am convinced that this is the place from which your ability to change the world is sourced.

 

The measure of a man is what he does with power.

- Plato

 

Power is not something we hold over people. That is fear or domination. True power is the understanding that you are capable of anything and can exercise that power to manifest your dreams or the dreams of others. Power is something that is sourced from within and given to others, or the world. That is true power.

 

So, how will you choose to use YOUR power?

 
If this video doesn’t inspire you, or at least reach deep down inside you and plant the seed of wonder, begging the question, “What am I capable of? What is my true power?” than perhaps nothing ever will.
 

The previous two months I wrote about The Three Deadliest Words You Can Say and the Most Powerful Words in the English Language.

 

If there is one point I want to communicate, it is about the power of our words and the importance of being mindful of our choice of words. Whenever we speak, the words we choose are an affirmation of who we are and what we believe. And they have a very powerful impact on us and the lives we are creating, whether we realize it or not.

 
I am

This month I want to highlight what I believe is THE MOST IMPORTANT word you will ever choose in your life. It completes a very short and simple sentence.

 

“I am ____. “

 

“I am” is the beginning of perhaps the most potent sentence you will ever utter. It is a declaration; an affirmation; a belief. And if you say or think it enough, it begins to become your truth.

 

Given that, the next word you choose after writing, thinking or speaking “I am” should be chosen very carefully, for it will no doubt define you and shape your life.

 

All too often I hear people being incredibly careless, lazy and unconscious about their choice.

  • I’m not pretty.
  • I am so stupid.
  • I’m not worth it.

 

With all of these careless choices, an important distinction needs to be made that dramatically changes the meaning of these sentences.

 

I am vs. I feel

 

I am stupid vs. I feel stupid, or I am unworthy vs. I feel unworthy, significantly changes the energy of this sentence. And it is a vital difference.

 

The first is a declaration of who you are, and it defines you. The second is simply a description of your emotions and how you are feeling in the moment. To go through life expressing or describing your life using the first can be detrimental to your happiness and satisfaction. Expressing things the second way acknowledges that the situation is just temporary and that you have the ability to change it.

 

To truly empower your life and honor the magnificent person you are, be mindful of the next word you choose after thinking or uttering the words “I am.” Whether you are aware of it or not, it will define you.

 

“Words used carelessly, as if they did not matter in any serious way, often allowed otherwise well-guarded truths to seep through.”

- Douglas Adams

 

I often tell my clients that I listen between the lines (as opposed to read between the lines). I believe the words we choose are purposeful, whether we are aware of it or not. And those words speak a truth about who we are and what we hold deep within our heart and soul.

 

If you want to change your life, your business or the world around you, be mindful of your words. They are one of the few things you have complete control over, and they are one of the few things that can, and will, directly impact how you create and perceive the world around you.

 

You are what YOU believe! Don’t let anyone else tell you who you are or what you can do!
 
 

Last month I suggested that the three most DISempowering words we could ever utter are, “I don’t know.” These three words give us an excuse to pretend we don’t know what to do. They allow us to stay stuck and not move forward, keeping us safe in our comfort zone.

 

Given that I am all about creating possibility with my clients, now it is time to share what I believe are the three MOST POWERFUL words you can say. I have come to understand their power based on the last 15 years that I have been coaching. During this time, most of my clients have been entrepreneurs and business owners, a truly unique group of people who possess an incredibly inspiring spirit. I love working with these clients . . . and here’s why.

 

Entrepreneurs and business owners have a mindset that when confronted with a challenge or uncertainty, they don’t stand around in a helpless state, scratching their heads, muttering “I don’t know what to do.” They don’t have the time or luxury to do that! They have people, and a business, counting on them.

 

Instead, they create an amazing transformation of thinking that allows them to immediately get into action. Intuitively, they transform the uncertainty and challenge of “I don’t know” into an inquiry that looks like this:

 

I don’t know >>> How Can I . . .

 

  • How can I grow my business?
  • How can I take advantage of the current market?
  • How can I develop a new product?

 

possibility1This re-framing of any dilemma that faces entrepreneurs and business owners drives them to find an answer. It drives them to find a way to solve whatever problem or challenge confronts them. Their thinking and commitment doesn’t allow for them to pretend they don’t have an answer. Rather, they exist in what is possible. And this way of thinking is exhilarating!!

 

Without fail, they find a way and discover a creative solution that addresses the problem they face.

 

“How can I” (or “How can we” when it involves other people) are the three most powerful words in the English language. These words immediately move you from being stuck in a space of uncertainty to getting you to a place of action and thinking creatively.

 

So why not take a cue from these fantastic people and transform your “I don’t know” into “How can I . . .”

 

I think you will find that your life immediately becomes more enjoyable and satisfying.

 

“What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”

- Thomas Merton

 

There are always two options that can be pursued when a problem presents itself. The first allows you to be defeated quickly by thinking you do not have the answer to the challenge. That is the path of “I don’t know.” The second promises a path of inspiration and endless possibilities. That is the path of “How can I . . . “

 

The path you choose is up to you, but I challenge you not to utter the words, “I don’t know” for the next month and see how your life changes.

 
 

“How Can I . . .” is a mentality. A mentality of possibility. This short video describes that mentality perfectly.
 

When I work with clients, at some point during our work together I will ask them what their goals are or what they believe gets in the way of them accomplishing their goals. It is not unusual for their first response to be, “I don’t know.”
 
These are the three most disempowering words in the English language!
 
When my clients respond with these words, without fail, I will challenge them and suggest that they actually do know and the only reason they are saying they don’t is so that they don’t have to do anything.   Their response allows them to hang out in a nebulous cloud of uncertainty.
 
Lost and Confused SignpostBut the truth is, “I don’t know” is nothing more than a smokescreen that allows people to stay stuck and not move forward. It gives them an excuse to pretend they don’t know what to do or what they truly want. It is a way of keeping them safe in their comfort zone.
 
 
I believe the reason we do this is because in reality, we humans are amazing beings! Deep down we actually know that we are capable of accomplishing whatever we set our minds to. And I think we are afraid of that. Once we declare what we want, we almost always achieve it! I have seen this proven over and over again for the past 15 years by my clients.
 
The trick, of course, is knowing what we want. Once we identify what we want and declare our goals, we begin to move toward them and achieve success. It’s just who we are and how we are built. And it is AWESOME!!
 
So stop pretending that you don’t know what you want in your life or business. If you don’t know, or you pretend not to know, that opens the door for one of 2 things to happen, neither of which you will be happy with.

  1. You will stay stuck and your frustration will grow.
  2. Someone else will define for you what you want.

Thankfully, as always, the solution here is not rocket science. Simply take some time to sit by yourself, quiet the mind, be honest with yourself, turn off any “voice in your head” that might be influencing you – other than your own – and answer these questions:

 

  • What do you REALLY want?
  • What will make you happy/smile?
  • If you knew you or your team could not fail, what would you do?

 

Believe it or not, it is that simple.
 
If you don’t run your life, someone else will.

- Anonymous

 

Pretending you don’t know what you want, or not taking the time to find out, is a surefire recipe for frustration in your life. There are enough obstacles in life that will inhibit you from having what you desire. No need for you to be one of those obstacles.
 
The good news is that if you find yourself to be an obstacle, it is the one you have the greatest control over removing from your path to success.
 
(Stay tuned! Next month I will share the 3 Most Powerful Words in the English language!)
 

We’ve all heard the familiar scoldings growing up. “Quit fooling around.” “Will you please grow up.” “When will you stop acting like a child?”

 

Well if it were up to me, the answer to that last question would be never.

 

In an effort to eliminate the childish qualities from our behavior as we race toward adulthood, our child-like qualities often become part of the collateral damage. And that is too bad. By losing our child-like qualities, we lose an immensely valuable resource – the ability to play.

 

The value and benefits of play cannot be overstated. Studies have found that fun and play are foundational elements in unleashing a person’s creative powers to think differently. They are a critical ingredient in connecting people, improving relationships, increasing productivity, breaking down communication and personal barriers, and alleviating stress and tension.

 

Unfortunately, all too often I find that many grown-ups shun the idea of having fun and playing, especially at work. It is as if we believe work can’t or shouldn’t be fun . . . otherwise we wouldn’t call it work. Right? You’ve probably heard someone say that at some point in your life.

 

The only thing that mentality leads to though is more drudgery in our workplaces as we slog through the day.

 

game1 But what if we worked differently? What if we changed our mentality and approach to work and brought more play into our workplace? What if we addressed “serious” work-related issues by playing games?

 

That is something I have been doing with my clients for many years now, and if their success is any measure, I would say that playing games actually provides them with a competitive advantage as it unleashes all of the benefits listed above and improves the performance of the employees and the company as a whole.

 

Of course, these aren’t just any games. It’s not like we break out into a game of freeze tag in the middle of a meeting . . . not that I don’t think corporate America could benefit from a good game of freeze tag. Rather, these games are customized, non-electronic, experiential games that are designed to further a company’s goals and facilitate the important conversations necessary to advance progress.

 

And I believe play has a cumulative effect on people and companies. The more you play, the more creative, productive, connected and stress-free you become.

So that leaves just one question -

 

Are you playing enough as an adult in your workplace?

 

It’s time to shake up the way we relate to work – especially in larger organizations and corporations. There is a reason why children laugh and play more than adults. You may think the easy answer is that children have less to worry about. But maybe the right answer is that they remember something we don’t. Perhaps we adults need to learn the valuable gift of play children have to teach us.

 

Seven days without laughter makes one weak.

- Mort Walke

 

Talk about gaming the system! Enjoy this moment of fun from the classic 1980s movie WarGames, where even the most serious of topics was made into a game.
 

Last week I read a news article about this video. It is a short, 90 second, impassioned plea from a father asking a large corporation for a simple favor. The video plea went viral and received over 1.5 million views in just one day.

 

 

In a USA Today article about the father’s (John Berlin) plea, Berlin said, “I touched the hearts of a lot of people. I wasn’t trying to do that, but I did … I just wanted to see a one-minute video.”

 

The one minute video he is referring to are those magnificent “Look Back” videos Facebook is creating based on a user’s posts over the past 10 years. If you are on Facebook and haven’t done yours yet, I highly recommend it. Berlin wanted to see what the video would look like for his son who passed away in 2012. As often happens when one is led by their heart, Mr. Berlin received his miracle and Facebook agreed to overlook its current policies and create a “Look Back” video from his son’s postings.

 

Then I thought about the amazing work Maggie Doyne is doing in Nepal. You can see her impact here – http://www.blinknow.org. I remember way back to when she was just starting her non-profit organization in 2006, when it was little more than a pang in her heart. Overwhelmed by the thousands of orphans she saw in Nepal due to a 10 year civil war, she said something to the effect, “I don’t know if I can help them all. I just want to help that one right there.” She was referring to a young 6 year-old girl named Hema who she had connected with on one of her first visits to the country.

 

These two beautiful moments, and the impact they have had on the world, demonstrate the perfect model for changing the world. Simply put . . . stop trying to change the world.

 
ripple3

If you really want to change the world, just focus on your passion. What calls most strongly to your heart? Focus on that. Focus on what you care about most, take one SMALL STEP toward that, and let the ripples that passionate and caring step creates do the rest. It will undoubtedly have an impact and will change the world around you.

 

So, what is it you care about most?

 

I can’t imagine a better time than Valentine’s Day to take your first step and send out that first ripple of love.

 

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.

- Pablo Picasso

 

What good is a gift if you keep it beautifully wrapped, yet hidden in the back of a dark closet, never to be opened. A true gift is one that is shared with others, and when it is, it spreads joy to all those fortunate enough to share in it. Don’t keep the passions you hold deep in your heart from the rest of the world. That is your gift. That is what the rest of the world awaits for. And until you share it, neither you, nor the world will be complete.

This past fall I had a fascinating conversation with a friend while at the Farmer’s Market.  Among the many interesting topics we talked about, our conversation touched on the growing inequality in the United States and the SHOCKING distribution of wealth among its citizens.  This disparity was recently publicized by a video that went viral on YouTube. (You can view the video at the end of this post)

 

(Before you get your partisan knickers in a knot, to be clear, the point I want to make has nothing to do with privilege, politics, the right to make a living . . . let alone a fortune, or the opportunity this country affords anyone who wishes to set out on that path of wealth.   So keep reading if you want to mine the real gold here.)

 

dollars 2After pointing out the inequality, my friend and I started talking about what might drive such an imbalance.  I suggested that one reason might be the generally understood “game” in this country called, “The person with the most money, wins.”  We all seem to have unwittingly enlisted in this game to accumulate money and wealth over the course of our lives.

 

To this, my friend responded by saying something I found to be bold and beautiful.  She said,“Well, that is not the game I am playing. I am playing the game called ‘Be more kind.'”

 

She then shared with me that in looking at her life, she knew she was not always as kind as she could be and she was striving to be more kind to those around her.  She then followed this amazing statement with one equally as fantastic, saying, “I chose not to play the money game.  I could have played it.  I could have chosen to be a stockbroker when I got out of school in the go-go 1980’s when the focus in this country shifted to money, but I was too lazy and had no interest in that area.”

 

Wow!

 

Such a powerful and honest declaration required two important elements, both of which are key for anyone to possess happiness in life -

 

  1. Awareness (of who she is and what she wants).
  2. Personal responsibility (acknowledgment AND ownership of the choices she made in her life).

 

All of which leads to the BIG question YOU must answer in order to find that same happiness and fulfillment -

 

What game are you playing in your life?

 

If you can’t answer that question, then you will always chase the Ghost of Contentment . . . one you will surely never catch.

 

The only games worth playing are the ones that bring you happiness.
 

- R. Largman

 

2014 just started.   Do you know what game you are playing this year?

 

It may be the money game for you. If so, go for it. But it may not. Maybe you want to play the kindness game. Or the creativity game. Or the parenthood game. Or the peace of mind game. Or the grow my business game. Or the . . .

 

Don’t get caught up in someone else’s game if it is not the one you wish to play. If you want to play a different game, be sure to know and understand what YOUR game is. Choose it powerfully, commit to it, and play it FULL OUT!!

 

Doing so will ensure that happiness is just around the corner for you.

 
 

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