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Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration’

While studying India as a college student, I was so inspired by the principles by which Gandhi lived his life that I decided to emulate them as much as possible. So much so, that many months prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq I called one of my best friends and asked, “If I don a white robe, walk down to Washington DC, and sit in front of the White House in protest, will you join me?” The long, hesitating pause was all I needed to know. And it was soul-crushing.
 

Something tells me that prior to taking a stand against British colonialism, Gandhi did not call his best friend.
 

Needless to say, I tried to live my life with a humility I believe Gandhi possessed. I never wanted the spotlight, or to be the #1 guy, or the CEO, or the leader. In fact, I often say, “I don’t want to be the leader, but I will make the best damn #2 guy you will ever have.”
 

Then, about 7 years ago, I joined Toastmasters. (Toastmasters is a phenomenal organization that develops your public speaking and leadership.)
 

True to form, at first I simply listened and admired the amazing speakers in my club. Then I started taking roles to support the group and be in service to them. Then, when asked, I took on leadership roles in the organization – but never the role of president. Over the course of time, I also began speaking.
 

At each meeting, the club would vote for best speaker. I won best speaker awards and best impromptu speaker many, many times. Apparently, I was good at this.
 

However, I never voted for myself when the club voted for best speaker. Keeping with what I thought were Gandhi-like principles, I would always vote for someone else, even if I spoke during that particular meeting.
 

Then it dawned on me.
 

If I don’t vote for myself, if I don’t believe in myself, why should anyone else? It was a HUGE shift and lesson. It was very hard for me to do, but I did finally vote for myself. That act turned out to be an extremely important piece of my personal growth and confidence.
 

A few weeks ago I returned to Toastmasters after a 2-year hiatus. At that particular meeting I was asked to speak on an impromptu topic, which I happily did. I truly enjoy speaking and inspiring others when I can. There were 3 other people that spoke on impromptu topics that night. Falling back into my old ways, I voted for someone else rather than myself.
 

In an unusual twist of fate, as if the Universe wanted to hammer home the message, I was asked to help count the votes to see who the club thought was the best speaker that night.
 
 
 

I lost by one vote.
 

Message heard loud and clear.
 
 
 
If I am not for myself, who will be for me.

– Hillel
 

We each hold a magnificence and inspiration inside ourselves. All too often though, we allow it to die on the vine of doubt, approval or humility. But this is absurd! Who we are, and what we have to say, is divinely inspired. Our souls are gifts meant to be shared with the world. As unusual as this might sound, each time we withhold what is inside we are actually being selfish.
 

Interestingly, the rest of Hillel’s wisdom states –
 

If I am not for myself, who will be for me. But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?
 

I cannot think of better words to encourage belief in yourself . . . sprinkled with the humility of Gandhi. Perhaps this was the wisdom Gandhi listened to when he donned his white robe and began his walk.
 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.

 

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Most people start the new year setting goals conveniently disguised as New Year’s resolutions. However, people who do this are focused on the wrong thing. Before they set their goals or resolutions, it behooves them to first establish a North Star.

 

polaris-north-starJust as it is used in nautical terms, your North Star is a fixed point you can use to guide your life and ensure that you are heading in the right direction. It can serve as an unshakeable marker that will guide you through the turbulent waters of your life.

 

With that in mind, before setting your goals it is beneficial to think about and declare your North Star. If you don’t, you are essentially sailing rudderless, aimlessly floating in an ocean of possibility hoping you will reach a destination you desire. Or even worse, you may end up setting goals that are not aligned with your North Star, thus setting a course in the “wrong” direction.

 

My inspiring friend Dan Galperin (www.manpowerproject.com) once asked me a question that serves as a beautiful and fun way to establish your North Star. He asked:

 

What are the 5 impossible goals of a lifetime that would blow your mind?

 

Once you have declared these lifetime goals, they can serve as your North Star and guide your annual goals. Your goals each year should align with, support, and further your North Star – even if by just a few small steps at a time.

Here are the 5 Impossible Lifetime Goals I declared this year as I set my North Star.

  1. Plant 10,000 trees.
  2. Have $5 million in the bank.
  3. Become a Best-selling author.
  4. Be in a relationship with a stunningly attractive (inside and out), amazingly sensual, incredibly spiritual woman.
  5. Speak in front of 10,000 people.

Rather than struggle with your New Year’s resolutions this year, most of which are broken because they are not inspired by a person’s North Star, why not start 2017 by electrifying your life with a declaration of your North Star!

 

“Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestimate what they can do in a year.”

– Matthew Kelly (& Bill Gates)

 

When dealing with goals, especially lifetime goals, don’t get overwhelmed by the magnificence you are declaring for yourself. You do not need to accomplish everything by tomorrow. Thinking that way is a sure recipe for frustration, which will likely lead to you giving up.

 

Rather, take your time and design a thoughtful, measured plan taking you from Point A (January) to Point B (December). Break your goals into smaller milestones which you can accomplish over the course of the whole year. By doing so, you will ensure your success and witness exhilarating progress toward your dreams.

 

This is the best way to succeed for the year . . . and your lifetime!

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.

 

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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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At the end of every year, I often experience a period of reflection. And when I think back on my life, I am happy to see a few brilliant moments.

 

  • My bicycle trip across the country with my friend Pat to raise money for kids with cancer. (www.fourdiamondsfund.org)
  • My extraordinarily mystical trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota where I was honored to sweat with one of the elders involved in the last Native American uprising at Wounded Knee in 1973.
  • My 2 years of full-time volunteer environmental work where I introduced hundreds of students to the importance of preserving the natural world around us while influencing policy at the local, county, state and federal level.
  • The brief moments I shared with the radiant Maggie Doyne and her ever-inspirational organization, BlinkNow. (www.blinknow.org)

 

Each of these moments called to my heart. And after each one, I imagined . . . no . . . was inspired to do more.

 

  • Start an annual bike ride with college students to raise money for kids with cancer.
  • Become a leading environmentalist that would change the mindset of Americans and our wasteful ways.
  • Restore the pride, honor and lives of the Native people who had everything ripped from them by our forefathers.
  • Move to Nepal and spend a few years in service to Maggie as she established her organization.

 

Sadly, I did none of these, and yet I still think about them regularly.

 

Here’s the VITALLY IMPORTANT thing we NEED to know about inspiration.

 

Inspiration requires immediate attention.

 
inspiration

When that flash of brilliance hits you, don’t think about it. Don’t ponder it. Don’t percolate on it. Don’t strategize about it. Don’t try and develop a plan.

 

That is not what inspiration calls us to do.

 
 
 

Inspiration calls us to immediate action.

 

It comes from our intuition. A deep, internal knowing in our soul. It promises a life of excitement, joy, fulfillment and feeling fully alive! But it asks that we take immediate action . . . and to trust.

 

That is the hardest part. That is what kills countless dreams and possibilities. Our fear and inability to trust and make the leap.

 

This coming year, when inspiration hits you, no matter how big or small it is, whether it is about your life, your family, your business, a relationship, your community, your future, whatever – take that leap. Just close your eyes and leap.

 

I promise it will lead to an astonishing life you love . . . and it might just become your legacy!

 

First you jump off the cliff, then you build your wings on the way down.

 

– Ray Bradbury

 

Don’t ever question inspiration. As hard as it may be to believe, it is a message from the Universe guiding you. It is an answer or clue to something you have been pondering or wanting for a while. Sometimes we don’t see how that inspiration fits into our life, but without fail it does. The answer to “how” is only revealed in the future, and without a magic crystal ball, it is TRUST that will lead the way there.

 

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My favorite hike in north Jersey is currently a trail through Hewitt State Forest. After winding through the woods for several miles it comes to a spectacular overlook perched hundreds of feet above Greenwood Lake. Just beyond the lake is a luscious backdrop of densely wooded rolling hills. And beyond that lies a view of the New York City skyline 25 miles away.

 
greenwood lake3

 
The first time I hiked this trail I had no idea where I was going or how far it was to the overlook. Being in this unknown space was uncomfortable and required more judgment than I might normally exercise on a trail I hiked regularly. Due to that fact, and the fact that I was running out of daylight, I did something I almost never do. I stopped before I reached my goal of the overlook.

 

Two weeks later, I was on the trail again. This time I was committed to making it to the overlook. After about 2 ½ hours, I reached my destination. As soon as saw the lake I stopped, sat down to rest, and ate my lunch as I watched boats zip about in the lake below and turkey vultures circle in the sky above. The view actually wasn’t that great, which had me wonder why people talked about it. Nonetheless, I finally reached my destination.

 

Or so I thought.

 

After I finished lunch and relaxed for a bit, I began my descent back to my car. Less than a ¼ mile further on the trail, I came upon a perfect, table-top, rock outcropping with the most spectacular view of the valley and lake lying below. If only I had known the Promised Land I searched for was just a few steps beyond where I stopped. This spot was clearly what everyone spoke about and its view far surpassed the spot where I originally stopped.

 

How often do we stop just before our promised land? How often do we let obstacles, or the opinions of others, or our own negative thinking stop us and get in the way of what we truly desire in life? How often do we not reach our goal because we simply didn’t take that extra step?

 

Sometimes we just need to go around that one last bend in the trail to reach our destination. Don’t ever hesitate to peek around the corner when searching for your Promised Land. It is usually worth it!

 

Brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.

                                                            – Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

 
All too often, when striving for a goal, we stop at the doorstep of success. It is a confounding human behavior, but many do it. All we simply need to do is take one more step and we will cross that threshold to success, yet we stop. . . dead in our tracks. Sometimes it is fear. Sometimes it is uncertainty of what lies ahead. And sometimes we simply doubt if we can do it.

 

Regardless of what it is, lift your leg one last time and take the step. As I say to many of my clients, unless that last step results in your death or the harming of others, it isn’t a mistake. Worse case scenario, it is simply something to learn from and, if need be, we can declare a “do over”.

 

If you have not seen Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture, I highly recommend it. He exemplifies grace, playfulness, the human spirit and TREMENDOUS INSPIRATION when staring into the face of what is truly that final step in our life.

 

This video is a beautiful summary of his lecture. You can find the full lecture on You Tube.

 

 
 
Photo Credits: Marissa; Crazy Ivory

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Here in America we are obsessed with winning. Obsessed with stories about persevering against all odds in order to finally, after great struggle, win the day. These stories are thrilling and inspiring, but they overlook the less glamorous, very un-Hollywood-like path to happiness and satisfaction – quitting to win.
 

A recent Psychology Today magazine published an article about three well-known entrepreneurs and businessmen who quit to win – Steve Jobs, Howard Schultz (Starbucks) and Henry Ford. They all quit and left behind some aspect of their life in order to focus on another more passionate avenue that called to them. The article went on to point out that when faced with “complexity and uncertainty, most people lack the mental acuity to kill pet projects or close doors on distracting opportunities.” Yet, it is this exact quality that often opens the door to greater success for people.

 

Sometimes you have to quit to win in your life.

 

It could be that you are in a bad job, a bad relationship or a bad financial situation. Whatever it is you are suffering through, the true challenge is mustering the courage to quit that path for something you think, feel or believe is more favorable.

 

Often, we feel as if we need to persevere and endure the hardships of life, as if that pain and suffering will be what earns us the reward we seek. But this suffering more likely just gives us great dissatisfaction and stress, which actually begs a much simpler question:

 

Do you want to be a hero, or do you want to be happy?

 

Personally, I like to follow The Rule of Water: When confronted with obstacles in life, water gracefully chooses the path of least resistance and flows around the obstacle, leaving the fight and struggle behind.

 

Some would say this is taking the easy way out. But to those who see the water reach its final destination, they see it as victory.

 

Quitting is letting go of things (or people) that are sucking the life out of you so you can do more things that will bring you strength.

– Osayi Osar-Emokpae, Impossible Is Stupid

 

Too many of us wear struggle and suffering as a badge of honor. It is as if that suffering makes the end result more rewarding. In elementary school, we all learned that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Every time we engage in suffering of some kind, consider it a deviation from that straight line and a detour from the end result you truly wish to achieve in your life.

 
Today, why not take a moment to reach into your heart and find the courage to quit that one thing that is sucking the life from you. There is no doubt that in doing so, tomorrow’s sunrise will seem much brighter!

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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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