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Posts Tagged ‘Fear’

After our recent election, I was drawn to one of my favorite places to hike – Jockey Hollow. Jockey Hollow was the encampment site for our Revolutionary Army for two brutal winters, and the hills and forests of this place are alive with the spirit that gave birth to our country.

 

jockeyhollow4On this particular sunny, fall day I decided to hike a trail I have not hiked before. While hiking, I came to a sign on the trail that indicated the trail turned right, but I saw no trail that way. What I did see, however, was a big hill in front of me, and I LOVE being on the top of hills and mountains. So I abandoned the marked trail and started bushwhacking my way up the hill.

 

The symbolism of this decision was not lost on me since we as a nation are now blazing a new trail and are venturing into uncharted territory.

 

Once on top of the hill, I explored a bit, I enjoyed the view, and I appreciated the accomplishment. From the top of that hill, though, I saw an even bigger hill, and for whatever reason it is in my blood that if there is a higher peak to climb, I MUST climb it. So off I went.

 

Here’s the thing about striving to get to a higher peak. In order to get from one peak to the next we must travel through a valley. As such, we must never fear the low points, for they are simply part of the journey to something greater.

 

When I got to the floor of the valley, I found a beautiful stream trickling over rocks, filling the air with a gurgling meditative rhythm. I sat on a rock, closed my eyes, and just listened, breathed and enjoyed the darkness of the valley shadowed by the rising hill next to me. As I listened, I pondered the fact that I did not hear or see any animals all day, which was odd. Not even a squirrel or bird.

 

After drinking in the moment, I began my ascent up the next hill. The sun was setting, and I hoped that from the next peak I would see a landmark I recognized or perhaps see a trail. I have to admit I was a bit lost and anxious as I did not have any bearing in the forest. When I reached the peak, unfortunately all I saw was more unfamiliar woods. No path. No landmark. No voices. No sound of cars.

 

Doubt crept into the back of my mind and I felt that nervous pit in my stomach that accompanies uncertainty. Now, granted I was hiking in New Jersey, so I knew that if I hiked long enough I would eventually cross a road, but with the sun going down, I also knew I needed to be smart.

 

This is why I love hiking in the woods and venturing down new paths. It tests and challenges my limits. In this moment I could either panic . . . or I could listen and trust.

 

My experience taught me to listen and trust. So I did.

 

After not seeing any animals all day, suddenly a wild turkey appeared. I couldn’t help but think that the turkey was Benjamin Franklin’s favorite bird and that he favored making it the national bird over the bald eagle, at least according to the myth.

 

I followed the turkey over the crest of the hill and as it ran off into the forest I saw a pink ribbon tied to a tree. And then another. And another after that. I followed the trail of ribbons and eventually came to a marked trail, which eventually led me to a road, which eventually led me home.

 

We must not fear new paths. It is in the unknown that we come to know ourselves best. But in order to find our way out of the darkness and uncertainty, we must listen and trust.

 

Hope is like a path in the countryside:
originally there was no path
– yet
as people are walking all the time,
in the same spot,
a path appears.

 

– Lu Xun

 

We all must travel unknown paths at some point in our lives. Whether they are found in a relationship, a career, financial matters, health, or any other domain. At some point we must step onto a new path.

 

We can either take that first step in fear and dread the journey, or we can take it with hope, trusting that it will lead us to new learning, growth, insights and maybe even an amazing adventure. Regardless of where the path may eventually lead, choosing hope and trust, rather than fear, will ensure the journey is more enjoyable.

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.

 

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One of the things I love about hiking mountains is that I always learn about life and myself. This held true while climbing Mt. Washington, the tallest mountain in New Hampshire, this past July.

 

The most powerful insight I gained from Mt. Washington was how susceptible we are to the power of suggestion, and how damaging it can be if we are not aware of when it is acting upon us.

 

mtw - warningWhen I arrived at the base of the mountain, there were several signs posted warning of avalanches and falling ice. The rangers I spoke with echoed this warning. While I am never one to do something stupid at elevation, especially when I am hiking alone, I didn’t get a sense that the ranger had a real conviction about his warning. My intuition told me that the trail wasn’t really that bad and that the ranger was erring on the side of caution.

 

So, I decided to take the risk and go up the trail.

 

While it may at first seem like I am about to make a big mistake, I should share that after 30 years of hiking, I enjoy taking measured risks, but rarely, if ever, will I take stupid ones. I decided I would continually assess the trail and if at any time I felt the danger level was too high, I would backtrack and take a safer trail up the mountain.

 

As it turns out, my intuition was right. The trail was not impassable or dangerous. Yes there was snow and ice. Yes the rocks up the vertical ravine were wet and slippery. But at no time did I feel my life was in danger.

 

But here is what did occur along the way.

 

My mind ran with the suggestion that there was danger. All I could think about on this gorgeous day was a huge chunk of ice the size of a Volkswagen barreling down the mountain and crushing me like a bug. The amount of fear I felt was distracting. Butterflies filled my stomach and my legs were unsteady.

 

My mind was preoccupied with what I would do if this did occur. What would be the best way to survive an avalanche in the terrain I was hiking? What rocks would I seek shelter behind? Did my phone have reception to call for help? Was there anyone else on the trail that I could hike with or assess whether the trail ahead was safe?

 

I was completely focused on the fear rather than the beauty and peace of the trail.

 

Sadly, the only place any danger existed was in my head. There was no real danger on the trail. All of my fear was the result of a suggestion of danger.

 

And that’s the thing about fear and worry: we become consumed by something that is not real and does not actually exist, and it takes us out of the reality and beauty of the present moment. And that is a total waste of time and energy.

 

Many of us live our lives in a space of fear and worry that is usually based on a suggestion rather than reality . . . which if you think about it, is the equivalent of living in a land of make believe.

 

At least when we were kids, the land of make believe was something to aspire to and was filled with rainbows, unicorns, lots of candy and happy endings.

 

Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.

After Earth (movie)

 

Never underestimate the power of your mind. While this story demonstrates the power of fear, we must not forget that the mind can also create a powerful positive reality pertaining to something we desire in life.

 

An amazing truth in life is that almost everything in the world around you was created from a thought. That being the case, why not have those thoughts move you toward something you desire rather than something you fear.

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.

 
 

For a little fun, below is the trailer that contains the above quote from the movie After Earth.
 

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“Live life with no regrets.”

 

God I hate that phrase.

 

If you don’t have any regrets in your life, then you haven’t challenged yourself enough or come across enough situations that really cause you to stop and think long and hard before making a decision.

 

The phrase comes from a perspective of looking back in hindsight and judging our lives. However, until a time machine is invented, we do not have the luxury of hindsight in the present moment. We can’t live in the future in order to help us make a decision in the present. And that is the only place life actually shows up! We can only assess the present moment and make the best decision from there. And I imagine that in that moment, we all make the best decision we possibly can.

 

So why torture yourself with judgment?

 

Don’t put yourself in purgatory; constantly thinking about your choice, judging yourself, and wondering if you made a wrong decision. I just don’t see the value of assessing and reassessing a decision and continually judging ourselves for it. The only result that can produce is a life of unhappiness and uncertainty.

 

Personally, I think regrets emerge in life when we make decisions based in fear. Things we did or didn’t do because we were afraid. I have to believe decisions made from that place will always lead to regret.

 
regret 1

I think the true intent of the phrase above is to make a decision; own it; and go forward. If it turns out to be a bad decision. Fine. Make another one. A different one. One that suits you better . . . now. In the new moment.

 

That, in my opinion, is how you live without regrets.

 

In the end, not having regrets is not about the decisions you made, but rather the ability to forgive yourself for the decisions you made and learn from them.

 

This is a great time of year to think of any regrets – and forgive yourself. Forgive others. We are all doing the best we can. Release that energy and allow yourself to move on and start the new year fresh. Otherwise you will forever be stuck in the past, in a life you don’t want.

 

“Forget regret, or life is yours to miss. No other path, no other way, no other day but today.”

– Jonathan Larson

 

Living a life of regret is more about living in the past, not being able to forgive yourself, or thinking that your life should be different or look different than it does. Second guessing your life away . . . well, I imagine that is a life where you can rarely find peace.

 

The truth is, we have but 2 choices in our life. Love the life you have . . . or begin taking action to change it. Anything in between will feel like purgatory.

 

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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.
 

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Most afternoons when the weather is nice, I will either go for a walk or a bike ride. One day in early April, after a few days of abnormally warm temperatures, a cold front was moving through the area.
 
 
storm 12By the end of my walk that day, the cold front was only about a ½ mile from my house. The sky was strikingly dark, with swirling greenish clouds mixed in for dramatic effect. I had never seen anything like it in all my years of weather-watching here in New Jersey, but it looked like the kind of sky people talk about before a tornado strikes. My thinking was proved right moments later by a neighbor from Texas (part of Tornado Alley) who confirmed that the sky does indeed look like this prior to a tornado.
 
 
The conditions were so threatening and foreign to me that I was a little concerned. I felt a pang of fear in my gut as I focused on the ever darkening skies approaching from the northwest that were filled with frequent flashes of lightning. I hurried my pace to get home before the storm hit.
 

As I walked up the last hill, I turned around and faced the southeast. There the skies were still bright, with patches of blue and white puffy clouds. Just looking in that direction calmed the nervousness and fear I felt in my gut and my whole body seemed to relax.
 

I still needed to get out of the impending storm, but the two drastically different views of the sky had me realize something much bigger about how we go through life.
 

What you focus on determines the reality of your day . . . and your life.

 

Do you focus on fear and the impending storm that might come your way, or do you focus on the bright skies that exist if you simply turn around and change your view? It is amazing how simply changing your focus can completely change the way life shows up for you.
 

If you go through life focusing on the storm, your life will more likely always be in turmoil. If you focus on the clear skies, you will more likely have a peaceful, lighter life.
 

So ask yourself, “What is your focus in life?” Do you like the circumstances that focus creates for you . . . or is it time to look in another direction and focus on brighter skies?
 

What we see depends mainly on what we look for.

– John Lubbock
 

The truth of the matter is that we get to decide what our life looks like and how it gets created. It is up to us and is our responsibility. Consciously or not, we choose what we focus on and create. Do you want that creation to be filled with the dark, swirling clouds of a storm, or do you want it to be filled with the bright light of the sun? The choice is yours .
 
 

And while you are bathing in the warm rays of the sun, why not listen to a fun, hopeful song from days gone by. At a minimum, ya just gotta dig this guy’s clothes! 🙂

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I’ve been watching a television show called FlashForward.  The basic concept is that the whole world blacks out for 2 minutes.  During that time, people see their lives 6 months into the future.  As time goes on, people begin to see that pieces of their “flashforwards” are coming true, and as a result, they start living their lives differently.  They start to live with the expectation that the life they saw will be, or is, reality.  You can imagine what a dramatic shift that might create in one’s life and the way they live it.

 

Then I got to thinking.  What if our intuition is like a mini flashforward?  What if we really did have an ability to see or sense our future and it manifested itself as our intuition?  If you are like me, I am sure you have had several experiences when your intuition guided you in a certain direction, as if it knew the future.  Depending on your trust, you either followed it or you did not.

 

One of the best examples of this for me was when I bought my last car.  All throughout the process, I had a strong feeling that something was wrong and that I should not buy that car.  I couldn’t figure out why, nor did I trust the feeling, so I bought the car.  The car was a Saturn, and today, the company is out of business.

 

What if our intuition is a future we cannot see that is whispering to us?  How would our lives be different if we trusted it?  What pains would we avoid?  What opportunities would we realize?   The proof I have gathered in my life points in the direction that our intuition is indeed some form of a time machine for all of us.  The trick is paying attention to it and trusting it. 

 

Perhaps you have a similar story about your intuition guiding you.  If so, leave your story in the comments section.  Let’s see what our collective intuition knows and proves out.

 

Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live.
                                                           – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
                                   

The Universe whispers to us every day, directing us on our path.  Sadly, we repeatedly don’t listen or accept its guidance.  Too often we let fear, uncertainty, doubt and lack of trust rule our lives, and when we do, we kill off the countless possibilities and future that exists just beyond them.  How would your life be different if you lived without those negative influences?  I would venture to say that life would be lived with a more ease and peace

 

If you are interested in seeing the first episode of FlashForward here is the link:  http://www.hulu.com/watch/97929/flashforward-no-more-good-days

 

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Not surprisingly, this time of year brings a lot of emails and newsletters that talk about spring and new beginnings.  Perhaps that is why I feel compelled to talk about the death of spring.
 
I am not referring to the season itself, but rather the internal spring we each hold inside  . . . hope.  In the book, If God Twittered, I wrote the short but poignant thought: “A soul filled with hope enjoys an eternal spring.”  When someone is filled with hope, everything about their body and body chemistry changes.    They smile more.  They have more energy.  Colors seem more vivid.  They are happier and possess a sense of optimism.  They are focused on the future and the possibility that future holds for them. 
 
There is no doubt that hope is a powerful instrument that inspires people to believe in their dreams and take action.
 
But there are many forces in the world that steal that hope and kill the sense of spring.  It could be a negative comment someone makes.  Or a parent or friend that judges you.  It could be a general sense of fear.  Or the constant barrage of bad news.  It could be your own doubt and uncertainty. Or a lack of trust.  Whatever it is, the forces that can kill one’s hope or dream far outnumber those that give it wings.  And the death of hope in one’s heart is one of the saddest moments someone can experience.  Their soul withers, their passion disappears, and they begin to float aimlessly through life.
 
That is why with the arrival of Spring this year I ask you to do three small things to become an agent of hope.

  1. Reignite a belief and hope in one of your dreams.
  2. Take one small action to breathe life into it and move it forward.
  3. Fan the flame of hope for another person’s dream by saying some encouraging words or doing one thing to help their dream become real.

You will be amazed how these small acts ignite their heart and yours!

  

Hope is like a path in the countryside:
originally there was no path

– yet

as people are walking all the time,
in the same spot,
a path appears. 

                   – Lu Xun 
                                   

Never, ever, ever give up on hope or yourself.  Over the past 10 years that I have been coaching, I have seen countless examples of the power of the human spirit powered by a dream.  It is hope that gives rise to perseverance, and perseverance that gives rise to success.  Keep walking the path and trust in the direction hope leads you.

 

What one step will you take today to ignite your dream or the dream of another?

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