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Posts Tagged ‘Hope’

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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I think it would be fair to say that I am an avid outdoor enthusiast. Hiking, biking, walking, kayaking – anything that gets me out in Nature. Others would add that I am an environmentalist, having spent many years protecting the environment and teaching hundreds of young adults to care about the natural world around them.

 

So you can imagine my surprise on a recent kayaking trip down the Delaware River, with osprey and bald eagle circling overhead, when I saw a billboard on the riverbank announcing, “Hot Dog Man Around the Corner.”

 

First of all, rivers don’t have corners, they have bends. Second of all, rather than be upset that such commercialism has polluted the river, something about this just made me smile. As I rounded the bend, I saw close to 100 people in tubes, kayaks and canoes waiting to buy a hot dog or snack.

 

hot dog1When I paddled by, I admired this perfect scene of Americana and thought to myself, “That right there is the entrepreneurial lifeblood that fuels this country.” Someone saw an opportunity – hundreds of people floating down the river each day – and took advantage of it by setting up a mobile snack shack on their boat.

 

This brought to mind a billboard I saw on Interstate 95 a few years ago on the way to Philadelphia which proclaimed, “Microsoft was started during a recession.” I loved both the hope of this message as well as its encouraging, if not bold, challenge to all the dreamers and entrepreneurs in the world. Essentially, it was saying, “Go for it! Don’t be afraid to try!”

 

This is what I love about America and working with entrepreneurs and business owners. They go for it! The blood that courses through their veins is rich with possibility. They see what CAN be, take the risk, and set out to make it reality.

 

In some cultures they would call that magic, for they are creating something from nothing. In America, we call it the entrepreneurial spirit.

 

They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.

– Edgar Allen Poe

 

Entrepreneurs and business owners daydream a lot and live in a world of possibility. They are future-focused, proactive and constantly ask themselves, “How can I . . .? They rarely take “no” for an answer and they are the fuel that powers the American workforce.

 

However, I think this is true of Americans as a whole. We daydream a lot. We see things as they can be or as we hope them to be. It is a spirit of possibility that was planted within us at the birth of our country and it is programmed into our DNA . . . which means we are ALL capable of performing magic and transforming our lives if we have the desire.

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.

If you don’t believe that spirit is within you, think back to when you were a kid. That is where you will find the belief you seek. It is still there . . . it is just covered with the dust of adulthood.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzf7u6GPGBA

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When Gary Vaynerchuk was a little boy, he dreamed of being incredibly rich. Actually, for him it wasn’t a dream as much as it was a foregone conclusion. It was just something he KNEW was going to happen.

 

Last month I had the opportunity to hear Gary speak, and not surprisingly, his dream came true. He took his family wine business from $3 million to $60 million a year by leveraging his abilities and the never-ending marketing tools the internet creates to reach customers – email, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. He has since parlayed his success into a venture capital firm and a social media agency of 500 employees.

 

And he is not done.

 

Within the first minute of his talk, Gary joked about buying the NY Jets football team. It was a joke because . . . well, the Jets are a joke and in bad need of good leadership. It is not uncommon to poke fun of the Jets here in the New York City area.

 

But then he mentioned the Jets again. And then again. And once more. It soon became clear that he was not joking. This is a real goal and dream of Gary’s: buy the Jets and resurrect them into a Superbowl champion, creating the same success with them as he has done with his family wine business and other businesses he invested in.

 

And this is no small dream! We are talking about an investment of just over $1 billion. And he will do it. Of that I have no doubt. He talks about it with the same confidence and certainty he had when he was a kid and just KNEW he was going to be incredibly rich.

 

Today, the dream of owning the Jets is what fuels Gary. It inspires him, excites him, provides him with laser-like focus, and gives him the energy of a giddy child.

 
dreams1

Hearing his story got me thinking about our childhood dreams. I think so many of our authentic childhood dreams have been crushed because these days the American dream seems to be all about making a jillion dollars or finding celebrity on the web and reality TV.

 

The problem, however, is that I think that is a fictionalized characterization of the American dream that we finally need to let go of. I think our true dreams have been hijacked by this incessant message that success = making a jillion dollars.

 

Your dream doesn’t have to be about money or celebrity – not that there is anything wrong with an awesome dream like that. What is important, however, is that the dream is about YOU.

 

What is YOUR dream? Or was your dream growing up?

 

I remember as a 12-year-old in 7th grade I wrote this amazing poem about the Revolutionary War battles of Lexington and Concord. I was surprised by the positive response I received to my writing and in that moment I realized I wanted to be a writer. My dream was to be a best-selling author.

 

And here is what I have learned from years and years of NOT fulfilling that dream.

 

Until we go after that dream, the one we have always known and felt deep in our soul, we will never feel the peace and sense of accomplishment we crave. We will always be chasing the wrong thing, and when we catch it, we will still feel unsatisfied.

 

Stop chasing after the things you don’t truly desire.

 

Thanks to Gary, I added a new goal to my 2015 goals – finish the book I started writing 10 years ago.

 

What dream will you finish this year?

 

Hope is a beautiful thing. I have built a career off of it. But it sucks as a plan.

– Rich Largman

 

I struggled with focusing on dreams for this post. The truth is, I feel like the term dream is a bit “tired” these days. It feels like a Disney cliche and it has lost the meaning and power it once held. As soon as you mention the word dream, people relate to it as something that might never come true, or worse, is not suppose to come true. It is something we are supposed to always chase, and at best, it will be very difficult to bring to fruition.

 

However, dreams are really just goals we have not put a plan behind. That is the real secret. More times than not, fulfilling a dream is not about divine intervention or an amazing stroke of luck. It is about having a clear idea of what you want, putting a plan in place and putting in the hard work to make it a reality.

 

Read how this applies to your business here.

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I hate the month of March.
 

Here in the northeast United States, March is a schizophrenic month. One moment it is sunny, the next it is gray, cloudy and snowing. The month is cold and windy most of the time, but then gives us teases of spring warmth. The ground is always wet and muddy. The grass and vegetation is mostly brown or gray or some other dull color. The trees are bare and dead leaves litter the ground along with our man-made garbage, which is easily seen. In short, it is bleak, dismal and depressing.

 

March is a perfect depiction of what transitions in life can look like. Just as March is our transition month from winter to spring, transitions in life or business can look equally as bleak and messy, especially if we prolong the transition process and delay whatever it is we must do next.

 

Basic CMYKThere is a trick to successfully navigating through transitions. The more decisively we act, the less painful and depressing they are. It is only when we are uncertain and hesitant that transitions are less than beautiful or exciting. The secret to graceful transitions is clarity – clarity in knowing where you are, clarity in knowing where you want to go, clarity in knowing what you want. Once you have defined those elements, taking decisive action is the key.

 

You see, the truth is that March is an amazingly beautiful month. It is filled with hope and promise. For the first time in months you can hear songbirds announcing the coming Spring. The sun, while rarely making an appearance, is noticeably warmer when it falls upon your skin or filters through your window. The days grow longer. The air begins to smell fresh as the Spring winds breathe life into it. And the green sprouts of flowers and the buds on the trees announce the life that is about to burst forth.

 

That is the true beauty of March and transitions. They announce a new hope and promise that is about to burst forth in your life. It is exciting, exhilarating and something that should be welcomed with open arms and hearts. All you need to do is define the desired future and act decisively.

 
That which must be done eventually, must be done immediately.

– Unknown

 

Transitions are often hard for people. Whether they are afraid of leaving what they know to be comfortable or are afraid of the unknown that lies ahead, many people tend to delay what they know they must do. More times than not, this delay just leads to greater stress in their lives or business.

 

In the 15 years that I have been coaching, I cannot think of one example where someone regretted the changes they made in their life. What is it that you know you must do in this moment? Don’t delay your life any longer. Do it now.

 
Transitions are often the result of people trying to change their lives. They move, change the color of their hair, change their clothing style, they get a new job, a new boyfriend/girlfriend. But often, all these changes do not create the desired impact. That is because these superficial changes are like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. If you want the secret to real change in your life consider the video below, and start there.
 

 
Photo credit: transitionsglobal.com

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I recently had coffee with a client I worked with 3 years ago. As soon as he walked through the door, his energy lit up the cafe. His soul was vibrant, his smile joyful and his being radiant.

 

This was a dramatically different man than the one I worked with 3 years ago.
 

2009 was not a good a year for him . . . or much of the rest of the world for that matter. It was the beginning of the economic slide into uncertainty and fear. In his case, his revenues tanked dramatically, he laid off 60% of his employees and he sacrificed 75% of his personal income to ensure the survival of his business. In short, he was being tested like never before.
 

That man, however, the one that stood on the edge of the cliff 3 years ago fearful of the dark abyss that lay before him, was nowhere to be found. Now, he simply glowed full of life.
 

I asked him what happened. What had him survive the darkness of the abyss? His answer was simple: Faith.
 

Faith isn’t about religion as many mistakenly think. Faith is belief. Belief in ourselves, our friends, our coworkers, the world around us, tomorrow, something bigger than us . . . whatever.
 

It’s funny how faith works. We all have it within us. It quietly sits in the seat of our soul, like a secret super power waiting to be engaged. Unfortunately, many of us only find faith when the red emergency light is flashing and we are forced to dig deep and prove to ourselves that we can do something that seems impossible. Sometimes we just need to travel through the scary abyss so that it is dark enough to see the light of faith that glows within us.
 

If you are standing on that cliff and are staring into that dark abyss, keep one thing in mind: There is a 100% chance of sunrise tomorrow. If nothing else, start your faith there, and know that with every new sunrise, you get to declare a do-over and recreate your life.
 

How do you want your tomorrow to go?
 
Every morning the birds begin their song in the dark, trusting that the sun will rise.

                                                                                                  – me 
 

Is it a bit dark in your world lately?  Do you need to declare a do-over?
 
Why not start now!  Here is your very own sunrise!
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMvgqy0NUk8&feature=relmfu

 
 
 
Photo Credit: wallpapersup.net

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I’m not sure why we do it, but we humans – or at least most of us – tend to belittle, put-down, diminish and doubt ourselves. I wish I could say we did it out of humility, but I don’t think that is the reason.

 
This limiting behavior, more than anything, is one the key challenges I address with my clients. Sadly, this self-doubt is devastating to our human spirit and all that we are capable of achieving.

 
I think a major reason we do this is because we have these little voices in our heads that we choose to listen to and believe more than listening to our own heart and intuition. These voices often are the “shoulds”, “coulds”, “have tos”, and “this is what society/my parents/my friends/’they’ expect of me” messages we pick up along the way as we are growing up. And without knowing our own heart, they are extremely powerful voices and can drown out what we know to be true about ourselves.

 
But underneath all of those external influences, there is the purity of who you really are in this world. That one contribution that you are destined to make. That one desire you wish to live.

 
That is who you really are. And that is the soul that truly wishes to shine through emitting its brilliance into the world. The good news is that it is not hard to find your way back to that person. You can most easily find that person when you are still, when the only sounds that can be heard are the whispers of your heart and soul, directing you which way to turn.

 
This February, why not give yourself the best Valentine’s gift ever . . . the opportunity to rediscover your heart and once again believe in yourself.

 
Why not take a moment this Valentine’s month to quiet all the noise that is swirling around you and listen to the whispers of your heart and soul. In today’s busy world, those whispers are most often found in a fleeting moment, but you are sure to recognize them when you unexpectedly find a smile dancing across your face.

 
That is the real you! Never lose sight of that person.

 
If you believe that the most important thing is inside you, then you lack nothing.

                                                                                              –  Maharishi
 

As soon as we turn outside of ourselves for validation or love, we begin to create a void that can never be filled.  Yet, we still do it and then spend a large part of our lives trying to fill that void.  A belief in yourself never comes from filling a void created by looking “out there” but rather by looking inward to truly understand who you are and what you want, and then challenging yourself to achieve it.

 

And just in case you need a reminder of the power and inspiration of Being You and Believing in Yourself . . . (Make sure to click through to YouTube)

 

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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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