Tag Archives: Vision

Combating Fear With…Martial Arts?

 

Executive Leadership and Career Coach Diane Bolden of Phoenix, Arizona.Though I have been studying and reflecting on the process of working through fear for the better part of my life, my learning came to a head when I was thrown into an environment that provoked a whole spectrum of fear and anxiety. As a martial artist, after learning and practicing basic blocks, kicks, and punches, the time came to take it up a notch and begin to spar.

What does sparring have to do with your life?

What I have learned over the years as I have continued to develop my skill in this area is that sparring is metaphorical for just about any challenge you could possibly be faced with that evokes fear — making a presentation (or any kind of performance), pitching a proposal, going to a job interview, or speaking your mind, just to name a few.

These situations lead you to question whether you have what it takes.

And no matter what the challenge is, there is something at stake — your status, your security, your reputation, your comfort, your pride. However, there is one differentiating factor: with sparring there is a pretty high likelihood that you will get punched in the nose. Literally.

While many lessons come from having positive experiences, much of what I learned about working with fear came through trial and error — a lot of error.

My first error allowed me to learn about focus.

Focus is determined by what you allow to occupy your mind.

When I first started sparring, my focus was on getting it over with. I was fairly preoccupied with a feeling of inadequacy that led me to temporarily forget much of what I had learned over the previous years. Rather than trusting in what I had the ability to do, I became preoccupied by what I did not want to happen — getting hit.

And as a result, I got hit. Hard.

Then, I didn’t want to spar again for a really long time. I took myself out of the game. I allowed the fear to stop me. And my training stagnated. Until the pain of stagnation became greater than the pain of the physical blow.

When I got myself back in the game, my mind shifted from retreat to advance.

Instead of fixating on what I didn’t want, I zeroed in on what I did want. It wasn’t about not getting hit. It was about pushing through the fear. It was about applying what I had learned. It was about having more faith in what I did know than what I didn’t. And it was proving to myself that I had it in me to rise above the challenge.

I threw more punches. I closed the gaps. I began to bob and weave. I learned how to lure my opponent in so I had him right where I wanted him.

But what does that have to do with facing fear off the sparring mat?

Everything. No matter what you do, you have the choice to focus either on what you are moving toward or what you are moving away from. When you are fixated on what you want to avoid, you will hedge your bets. You won’t go all out. You’ll watch the clock. And you won’t really be engaged. You’ll cheat yourself out of the joy of the experience.

When you move toward something, you marshal the forces of desire. You ignite passion. You make what you want more important than what you fear. And this gives you the fuel to do what you really want to do — in spite of the fear.

The second tool for moving out of the grip of fear is presence.

Fear has you consumed with worrying about the future or fixated on something from the past. It keeps you in your head and prevents you from being immersed in what is happening right in front of you.

When I would try to remember a technique or think too much about how to properly execute anything, I’d miss what was happening and get hit. I had no real concept of what was happening, what was coming at me, or what I needed to do to deflect it. I felt as though I was in a blender, at the mercy of the blades and centrifugal force.

Ironically, being in my head kept me in a state of panic that kept me from thinking clearly. In fact, I became so gripped with panic that I forgot to breathe and ended up exhausting myself almost immediately.

In non-sparring environments, being in your head costs you opportunities.

When you are giving a presentation and are so intent on what you prepared that you fail to see that your audience is confused, or bored or irritated, you risk losing them. In a sales setting, being determined to stick to your pitch when your customer has questions that you didn’t plan on can keep you from making the sale.

The irony is that not deviating from what you planned because you are consumed by fear keeps you from being present and often ends up leading to that which you are most afraid of. The antidote? Let go of your preconceived ideas and hold your plans loosely so that you can be present.

When you get out of your head and become present, things slow down.

When I immersed myself in what was happening in front of me while sparring, I realized that every time my opponent would throw a punch he left himself wide open. Rather than worrying about getting hit, I began to look for vulnerabilities. And I learned that I could get him to raise his hands to his face if I threw a few high punches, which would allow me to land a couple low ones while he wasn’t expecting it.

I went from jumping around like a cricket without breathing to moving more deliberately and strategically and conserving my energy. Instead of allowing my opponent to back me into a corner, I learned to pivot and use his own force against him.

In any situation, being present leads to better connections and higher performance.

You will take in more information. You will breathe more deeply, get more oxygen to your brain and access higher creativity. You’ll be more likely to make whoever you are talking to feel more important, because you’ll be more focused on him and not yourself. You’ll think more quickly on your feet and come up with better solutions on the fly.

These insights led me to realize that often what is more important than preparation is practice, which brings us to the third tool: desensitization.

The more you expose yourself to what you fear, the less impact the fear has.

Fear never really goes away. It is a human emotion that is wired into our DNA. While we can’t change the fact that it will be ever present, we can diminish the effect it has on our performance. What allows the fear to diminish, is repeatedly being in the presence of what you fear and realizing that you will be okay.

The first time I got punched in the nose, it was horrible. And though I went to great lengths to keep it from happening again, it did. And when it did, I realized that the memory of it was far worse than the reality.

The more I sparred, the more I began to become confident in my ability to prevent it from happening. And the less my fear kept me from doing what I needed to do.

Many altercations and escalations are the product of untamed fear.

The importance of learning to spar is to develop within the martial artist the confidence to handle a physical fight if necessary — in order to prevent a conflict from escalating to the point that requires any force at all.

And the implication for each of us is that becoming confident in the face of fear allows us to rise to any challenge or opportunity with grace, wisdom and victory. In so doing, we inspire others to follow our lead.

Eleanor Roosevelt urged “Do one thing every day that scares you.” 

What would that be for you? Chances are it is connected to something you really want for yourself. As you focus on what you’re moving toward, stay fully engaged in the game and the joy of playing it, and have the courage to repeatedly put yourself in the presence of your fear, the words of Henry Ford will ring true for you as well:

“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t.”

Staying fully engaged without succumbing to fear, pressure and overwhelm can be tricky. The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive will give you approaches and methodologies that help you rise to the occasion and not only get better results, but also enjoy yourself in the process. Though the spring program is now full, you can get on the waiting list for priority access to the fall program, kicking off in September. For more information, visit The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive.

Suffering a Setback? Use it as a Springboard

 

DianeBolden_FB_03.15.17“The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur.” ~ Vince Lombardi

Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final and failure is not fatal – it is the courage to continue that counts.” Thomas Edison offered, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Their words lead me to contemplate the very meaning of the words “success” and “failure.Perhaps they are nothing more than labels we use for experiences that could very well be vital stepping stones. Both words are loaded with judgment that compels us to move closer to one and further from the other. But what if they are simply two sides of the same coin?

Consider the following events in each of these people’s lives:

  • It’s been said that Abraham Lincoln failed in business twice, had a nervous breakdown, and was defeated in eight elections.
  • Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor who thought he lacked creative ideas.
  • When he was young, Thomas Edison was told by his teacher that he was too stupid to learn anything.
  • Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda, was turned down by Toyota for an engineering job.
  • Before becoming a successful actor, John Wayne was rejected by the US Naval Academy.
  • Lucille Ball was dismissed from drama school with a note that read “Wasting her time… she’s too shy to put her best foot forward.”
  • Steven Spielberg unsuccessfully applied to film school three separate times.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
  • Baseball legend Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times.
  • The first novel of best-selling novelist John Grisham was rejected by 16 agents and 12 publishing houses.
  • Before going on to sell millions of copies in 27 languages, Robert M. Pirsig’s book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected by 121 publishers.
  • Deca recording company turned down the Beatles, with the reason “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on its way out.”

This list could continue for pages. What these people have in common is that they didn’t let labels like “success” and “failure” define them. They didn’t allow the events in their lives (or their thoughts and judgments about them) to get in the way of their dreams or what they knew they were capable of. And their courage, perseverance and determination benefitted not only themselves, but countless others – many of whom came generations later.

Another of my favorite quotes is from a woman named Susan Taylor who said, “Seeds of faith are always within us; sometimes it takes a crisis to nourish and encourage their growth.” Using this same wisdom, perhaps what some call “failure” is actually a catalyst – or even a prerequisite – for what others call “success.”

What’s happening in your life right now? What if it is the very experience you need to get where you most want to go?

If you are interested in more tips for transforming your setbacks to springboards, I encourage you to check out The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow Group Intensive, an exclusive twelve-week group mastermind/coaching program/online training course kicking off the week of March 20. The program is a blend of online leadership development, small group mastermind, and one-on-one coaching, and is limited to eight people. Sign up today!

Getting Connected: What Intuition and the Internet Have in Common

 

Diane Bolden - Professional Executive and Leadership Coach“Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.” ~ Jonas Salk

 Lately, I have been marveling over the wonder that is the internet.

My kids called me “ancient” when I explained that when I was a student, doing a research paper entailed spending hours in a library pouring over books and periodicals to get the required information. They can’t imagine what a world without the internet would be like. And frankly, neither can I. The vast amount of data available at our fingertips at any given moment is truly amazing. Most of us don’t really think all that much about it anymore. We just expect it.

What if you had a faster way of accessing your inner wisdom?

After musing a little more, it hit me that the logical mind is to the library as intuition (or gut instinct) is to the internet. When we are in our heads, using logical, analytical thought it’s a lot like only being able to read the books on a bookshelf, or using a computer that is offline. We only have access to the data that is stored in the immediate vicinity, which can be largely outdated or even obsolete.

And living in our heads often requires quite a bit of time and energy to try to figure stuff out and make things happen just the way we think they should. When it doesn’t, we often get frustrated, try harder to get everything to work, and ultimately feel like we just keep hitting walls. The frustration can lead us to cut ourselves off from our intuition, which like the internet, has access to far greater things than we might realize.

Intuition connects us to a rich source of data we may not otherwise notice.

Accessing our intuition allows us to connect to knowledge that surpasses what we can directly see, feel, hear, touch, or taste. We plug into information that allows us to feel connected to others – to hear beyond the words they are speaking to what they are not saying but feeling. We tap into the realm of possibilities and opportunities and begin to discern what we can do to leverage and act on them. We can also pick up warnings about options that are not in our best interest. When we are in our heads, we miss these things and/or inclined to resist them because they are seemingly irrational or inexplicable.

Connecting to intuition allows us not only to receive data but also to send it.

It’s a lot like doing a search on the internet. When you want to learn about something, you enter a key word and then receive a variety of links that will take you to more information on the subject. Similarly, when you set your intention on something you want in your life – peace, clarity, or a satisfying resolution in some conflict or challenge – you send a signal to the vast field beyond what is in your head that gathers information and energy aligned with that intention and brings it into your awareness. You access an infinite field of creativity and wisdom from which the greatest inventions, discoveries, and creations of our time originated.

We all access intuition in our own way.

For some, it is visual – like seeing a picture or words on a screen or in the mind. Others can get it through audio, perhaps picking up words in a song, a conversation, or even hearing words in their heads. And many of us get a feeling or a strong prompting to do one thing or another. Sometimes our experiences themselves take on increased significance when we begin to recognize that what is taking place has some relation to our inquiry or intention. When we act on these inklings, things have a way of falling into place in such a way that our intention comes to pass.

Unlike the internet, our connection to this greater field is always accessible.

When we consciously rely on it, keeping our thoughts focused on what we want most in life, we will experience a sense of flow, peace, and deep satisfaction that mirrors our state of mind. When we allow our connections to become interrupted with frustration, doubt, anxiety and fear, we tend to draw to ourselves experiences that match those thoughts.

Try it and see for yourself.

The next time you catch yourself feeling anxious or stressed—frustrated about not being able to solve a problem, resolve a conflict, tackle a challenge—make a conscious decision to move from your head to your gut, and then balance the two. Choose what you want to experience and allow that to be your guiding intention. Your intuition will allow you access to ideas and possibilities that are just outside the boundaries of your mind, and your head will help you process and act on that information in a way that brings you what you want.

Accessing your intuition enables you to up level your leadership and your life.

If you are interested in a guided experience that allows you to reconnect to your inner wisdom and strength and find the answers you need to usher in a greater sense of meaning, higher level of performance, and lasting fulfillment, I encourage you to check out The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom and Flow Group Intensive, an exclusive twelve-week small group mastermind/coaching program/online training course kicking off on March 20. Sign up before March 10 and receive a 15% early bird discount!

 

How to Create Your Ideal Job

Diane Bolden Professional Executive Coach“Whatever you do in this life, take time to sit quietly and let the world tell you what it needs from you. Take a moment to honestly understand what your gifts are – you all have them. The way you choose to live your life brings meaning to your life.” 

~ Ann Reed

I’m continually amazed by the number of people who stay in jobs they are miserable doing.

Many rationalize that they must make the best of it, but in refusing to consider the options that are often right in front of them, they may not even realize what the “best” is. When we allow ourselves to stagnate, ignoring the impulses and desires we may have to bust out of our self-created constraints, we also unintentionally block the energy that we could be freeing up in those who surround us, whether they be direct reports, peers, customers, family members, or others. We do not do the world any favors by playing small.

You possess an inborn talent that allows you to do something in a way that no one else can. 

When you find this talent and apply it to an area of opportunity or need within an organization, you can create a job for yourself that will reward you with immense satisfaction and fulfillment. You’ll find you can achieve extraordinary results with ease and accomplish things people previously thought were impossible. And you’ll serve a vital function for the organization or community of which you are a part, which will in turn give you a deep sense of meaning and purpose.

The key is to pay attention.

 Notice what you do that leads to extreme satisfaction and joy and seems to come naturally to you. It’s easy to downplay our strengths—to rationalize that they are no big deal or that everyone can do what you believe are silly little things as well as you can. The truth is that not only can everybody not do those things with the level of skill and finesse that you can, but also that not everybody would want to.

Creating your ideal job or opportunity is a lot like looking for the perfect candidate for a job.

Except in reverse. When companies look to hire someone, they do well to spend time identifying the specific qualifications the ideal candidate will possess. When creating the ideal opportunity, you are that ideal candidate spelling out the distinct responsibilities and kind of work that would be a perfect match for your talents.

The more specific and concrete the job description and ideal candidate description, the more likely a company will find their key player. And the more specific and concrete your picture of your ideal opportunity, the more likely it will come finding you. The clarity of your vision will compel you to act in ways that make you the ideal candidate and enable you to position yourself as a contender.

Even if all you can start doing right now is entertain the idea that perhaps there is something grander out there for you that is aligned with your talent, interests, and passion, you will begin to mobilize energy in ways you could not before.

The more you can internally make it real for yourself, the more it will outwardly come to be.

As you move toward unleashing your true talent and being open to the opportunities that begin to present themselves to you, you will see the way to lead others—inspiring them to bring out the best in themselves by showing them how it is done.

Interested in more strategies for getting clarity on your ideal work and taking steps to move toward it? Stay tuned for more information on my upcoming online course and group intensive, The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom and Flow, or click here to get on the waiting list and get first priority (with no obligation) at the limited spots that will soon be available.

How to Overcome the Fallacy of Failure

 

Diane Bolden Executive Coach“What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”

~ Robert H. Schuller

I love the above quote because it inspires me to think big.

I often make lists of all the things that I’ve dreamt of creating or being a part of. I encourage my clients to do it too. But when I begin to contemplate actually doing the things on those lists, the concept of failure often creeps in and makes its presence known with a long, dark shadow.

It’s easy to shoot for the moon until the prospect of crashing to the ground enters the picture.

We can dream and scheme all we want, but making our dreams real requires us to act. And doing so brings us nose to nose with what is likely our most formidable opponent: fear of failure.

Failure means different things to different people.

But I think the most fear-provoking thing about the idea of failure that it leads to pain—pain of rejection, embarrassment, loss, financial ruin—not to mention its actual physical variations. The interesting thing about pain is that—thankfully—it is usually finite. It comes and it goes. And though we may not always have any control over whether we experience it, we do seem to have some say in how long it lasts and how uncomfortable it gets.

When I used get immunizations as a kid, I remember getting all worked up…

…before the needle even came close to my skin. And I’ve watched my kids do the same thing—even screaming or howling before contact was actually made. But seconds later, the injections are done before the kids even realize it. They left the exam table and went onto other things without delay—except maybe when one of them needed a little more sympathy and dwelled on the puncture or the blood on the bandage—prolonging the unpleasant experience and making it into something far more painful than it really needed to be.

I think we do the same thing when we anticipate the pain of what we consider to be “failure”. 

Our minds have a way of making it far more ominous than it ever is in reality. And if we happen to find ourselves experiencing it, we can also fall into the trap of unwittingly making it more uncomfortable than it needs to be. But we can also use resilience and determination to bounce back and focus on something that will help us move forward in spite of an otherwise unpleasant experience.

I prefer a slight variation of that opening quote that goes like this:

“What great thing would you attempt if you knew there was no such thing as failure?”

Because it really comes down to what your experienceregardless of the way it turns outhas given you, rather than cost you.  People who have accomplished extraordinary things in their lives are the first to tell you that they have had more than their share of what many refer to as “failure”. And many will tell you those experiences were, in fact, prerequisites for their success. What differentiates them from those who allowed “failure” to defeat them is that they got back up, figured out what they could learn, and moved forward, equipped with a new awareness, a new understanding, and renewed commitment to their greatest dreams and visions.

I think we all need a shot from time to time.

A shot of humility, compassion, and humor. A shot that will only serve to make us stronger, more determined, and far more resilient than we were before.

What great thing can YOU achieve today, knowing that you simply cannot fail?

Are you interested in more strategies for overcoming the fallacy of failure and strengthening your courage, resiliency, and momentum toward achieving your visions and aspirations? Stay tuned for more information on my upcoming online course and group intensive, The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom and Flow, or click here to get on the waiting list and get first priority (with no obligation) at the limited spots that will soon be available.

Ringing in the New Year: Why Looking Back is as Vital as Looking Ahead

 

Diane Bolden Professional MentorThere is something magical about being at the threshold of a new year.

It is like climbing to the top long staircase to find ourselves on a landing, standing before a large glimmering door just waiting to be opened. As we look down, we realize how far we have climbed to get here. Yet, we cannot help but wonder what lies behind the door.

Often we underestimate the amount of growth we have achieved.

It’s important to take some time to reflect on the unique combination of experiences that have led to both successes and disappointments and what we have learned from them. When we do, we often gain the insight that helps us become aware of what we most need to do from this point forward.

I often work with people who feel they are ready for a change, but aren’t sure what that change should be. They aren’t necessarily miserable in their jobs or other areas of their lives – they just long for something that will fill them up in ways they haven’t been fulfilled in the past.

When I coach people who feel this way, they often want me to tell them what the next best step is – give them the answer, or perhaps a step-by-step process that will lead them to find what they seek. Of course, no person has these answers for another. Our greatest challenge and opportunity is to find them for ourselves.

Each of our lives has a story with perfect order and meaning.

As within a novel or screenplay, each character has a specific relationship to the main character and every scene has some relevance to his growth and evolution. There will be victories and disappointments, as well as twists and turns that transition us from one to another and back again.

We will have occasion to laugh, cry, and experience a myriad of other emotions that are somewhere in between. And as a result of this perfect combination of events and mini-plots, we discover ourselves to be better people.

When we are reading a book or watching a movie, the perfect order is often easier for us to see than it is for the characters enmeshed in the stories we are watching. Yet, the mystery and intrigue, the humor over each misstep, and the courage we see the characters exude to find their way give substance to the story and allow us to leave the book or the theatre feeling moved or inspired in some way.

As you reflect on 2016, can you identify your story’s most pivotal turns? What did you learn from them? Think about your character sketch. What are the endearing qualities you have that make you unique and special? How can you leverage them to build on the previous events to create a story worth telling?

Think also about the people that surround you. In what ways are they helping you grow? What are they teaching you about yourself – whether in joyful or painful ways? And what are the qualities they possess that are similar to and different than yours? How do you compliment each other, and what might it be that you can create together?

You now sit at the threshold of another chapter in your story.

Contemplate what you have already experienced and ask yourself how you might build upon it to add a bit of intrigue and adventure. Identify the ways that you could add a little lightness and humor. Think about the interplay between the characters and how you could spice things up a little.

We have each been given the makings of a beautiful tale. Open your eyes and survey them the way you would the perfectly planned detail of your favorite movie or novel. Give yourself completely to the adventure, the possibilities, and the humor in your life.

Then find a way to revel in the joy of living it.

As you turn the page to your life’s next chapter, consider emphasizing the experiences that help you gain clarity, wisdom, and momentum for years—or chapters—to come. Stay tuned for more insight into those moments and information on my upcoming online course and group intensive, The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom and Flow. Click here to get on the waiting list and get first priority (with no obligation) at the limited spots that will soon be available.

How to Survive (and Thrive) in Change and Chaos

 

How to Survive and Thrive in Change and ChaosMany of us are experiencing a great deal of pressure, anxiety and change.

The holidays are upon us. The leadership of our country is transitioning. And many are in the midst of personal or professional change as well. Frustration and turmoil are common responses to this kind of uncertainty and disorientation, leading to exhaustion and hopelessness. But consider this as you think about things that may feel as though they are spinning out of control…

What if the only thing truly standing in your way of peace, productivity, and purpose – was your thinking?

One of the key attributes embodied by extraordinary leaders in all walks of life is encapsulated in the word “responsibility” – not just in a moral or ethical sense of being accountable for our actions, but also remembering that there is wisdom in recognizing that we have the ability to choose our response. That response we choose will have a resounding impact on ourselves and everyone around us.

Here are four tips to help you move gracefully through change and chaos:

(1) Identify what is within your power to influence.

The greatest change agents start by recognizing what they have to work with before identifying change that can be sustained. They don’t waste their time worrying about things that are truly out of their control, like changing the weather. Instead, they focus their attention and energy on those things that they can influence. The greatest leaders know that the most powerful and sustainable change must start from within themselves.

(2) Recognize your stories.

 “We are not troubled by things, but by the opinion we have of things.” – Epictetus

 The thing that fascinates me about a seemingly chaotic state of affairs is not so much what is happening, but the stories we are telling ourselves about what it means and the impact those stories are having on the way we are responding to it. When we react to things with fear, we end up amplifying what we are afraid of and add to the anxiety. Our fears drive us to act in ways that keep us from acting on our intuition and finding the answers that will truly serve us. Sometimes, we end up behaving in ways that make our fictional stories become real.

As an example, when you are feeling so overwhelmed that you question whether you’ll get all the important things done, you are likely to approach things in a way that draws them out – perhaps by procrastinating, making things more complicated than they need to be, or using more energy to resist and worry than it would take to actually get things done.

(3) Think of the worst-case scenario.

Our rational minds want answers and security. They need to figure everything out and almost automatically occupy themselves with trying to sort through data to arrive at conclusions. The problem is that our minds are plugging imaginary variables into the equation that end up further exacerbating the anxiety we are already experiencing. When they are done with one variable, they plug in another and the churning continues, leaving us with an uneasiness that keeps us on edge.

In the grip of this madness, sometimes the best thing you can do is indulge your mind with a variable that will allow it to do its thing. Go ahead and plug in the worst-case scenario. If the worst possible thing happened, what would you do? Allow yourself to sit with that question for awhile. Let the fear move through you and keep asking the question, what would I do that would allow everything to be OK? If you sit long enough with your question, you will arrive at some workable alternatives and reconnect with that part of yourself that is strong, resourceful and resilient.

(4) Now, come back to the present.

Armed with the knowledge that you will be OK even if the worst possible thing happens, you can come back into the present and recognize your fearful thoughts for what they are – fearful thoughts. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got, which I pass along frequently, is don’t believe everything you think.

In the present moment, devoid of your stories about variables that are truly unknown, you are OK. And when new events begin to unfold, if you stay in the moment and access your inner wisdom, you will know exactly what you need to do – or not to do – to be OK then too. And as you go about your daily life in this way, your calm resolve will permeate your interactions with others and through your example, you will help others to rise to their challenges in ways that unearth the greatness in themselves as well.

Interested in additional strategies for navigating change, challenge, and uncertainty with effectiveness and grace? Stay tuned for more information on my upcoming online course and group intensive, The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom and Flow or click here to get on the waiting list and get first priority (with no obligation) at the limited spots that will soon be available.

 

PinocchioThe above article contains excerpts from my book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Beavailable on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

 

 

Living Your Dream

Martin_Luther_King_Memorial_11999909_bigstock

Over the history of time, there have been among us people who dared to dream big and ended up creating something magnificent as a result. What they had in common was not their station in life, their family inheritance or even necessarily a solid education. Many rose up despite odds that would suggest their lives would be quite ordinary, or insignificant, perhaps growing up amidst gangs and violence and poverty to become leaders whose life stories would inspire millions of others from all backgrounds and circumstances.

What is it that differentiates these people from the rest? And what can we all learn from them?

“Nothing happens unless first a dream.” ~ Carl Sandburg

People who do amazing things in the world often have a dream that they lovingly nurture and protect. From somewhere in the depths of their being, they know they are capable of greatness – not because they were born into it or are particularly more gifted than everyone else, but simply because it is their birthright – as it is for all of us.

Each one of us has the ability to create something extraordinary. We all have different talents and strengths, diverse styles and passions – along with a unique combination of experiences (for better or worse) that allows us to discover and apply them to create something bigger than ourselves. We may not know exactly what form it will take, but if we pay attention to the whispers and yearnings of our hearts, we begin to make out the shape of something that beckons to us.

As children, most of us received mixed messages. We may have been encouraged to follow our hearts and give life to our dreams, in addition to being conditioned to be practical, hedge our bets and take the safest route. Over time, many of us have allowed the roar of public opinion – that often tells us our dreams are frivolous, selfish and unlikely to come to fruition – to silence that small still voice within. But those among us who have risen against their odds have learned to reverse that process and believe in themselves and their dreams despite the overwhelming evidence around them that would suggest that success is improbable.

“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lost that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.” ~ Martin Luther King

The beginning of each year brings with it the question of what we will focus our time, energy and resources into accomplishing. It is an optimal time to reacquaint ourselves with our dreams and visions, our purpose and values, and the question of how we can become living examples of that which we most admire. You may be quite sure of what it is you would like to create, do, have or become. Or perhaps you have only small pieces of a bigger puzzle that has not yet come together.

The power of your dream will be bolstered by the degree to which your vision expands beyond your own interests to those of others around you. Spend some time contemplating where you feel most drawn and why. When you land on something that will allow your gifts to align with those of others to accomplish complementary goals, you will join forces with something much greater than yourself. It will lift you up when your energy is low and sustain you through moments of doubt and fear.

Perhaps the whispers of our heart and the calls to greatness that we feel within our souls are essential components of a larger, collective plan that we each play a vital part in. As we rise up to play these parts fully and wholeheartedly, we can revel in the beauty of its mysterious unfolding. In the process, we will discover ourselves to be greater than we thought we were and use each moment of our lives to create something extraordinary for ourselves and others.

“Behind every great achievement is a dreamer of great dreams.”
~ Robert K. Greenleaf

 

PinocchioPrincipleThe above article contains excerpts from my book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be, available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

 

Photo credit: joegough

Embracing Your Vision

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

~ Walt Disney

Recently, I had the enchanting experience of going to Disneyland with my husband and kids.  It was like stepping into a different world, one where the stresses and anxieties of the previous week simply melted away and the child in me emerged.  I was swept away by every intricate detail that was so carefully attended to by the myriad of people that make Disneyland what it is – from the towering castles and belly dropping rides to the placement of each flowering plant and the energy and appearance of every cast member. 

And then I was struck by the thought that everything I was experiencing – all of the wonder and the delight and the fantasy of this place – as well as all that is associated with it – the movies, cartoons, storybooks and extended media – ALL OF THIS began with a single thought in the mind of a man who took action to make it real.  I don’t know much about Walt Disney, but I imagine he was gripped by an idea – a dream and inspiration that captured his heart and burst inside of him until he was compelled to find the people and resources to make it happen. 

This guy had a vision that couldn’t help but be embraced by others.  It spoke to their hearts and their spirits and allowed them to be a part of something that did the same for everyone who came into contact with it.  Disneyland is the “happiest place on earth” because it brings out the best in everyone who experiences it.  It unlocks the magic each of us carry at some level in our being, and the most traditional of the fairy tales are about that very subject.  Even the performers in the various stages throughout the park sing refrains about looking within to find our heroes.  What an amazing creation!

Each of us gets these inspirations from time to time.  Ideas are a dime a dozen.  When was the last time you got one that made your hair stand on end?  And what did you do to take it to the next level of creation?  Did you dismiss it?  Think it was too big, or unrealistic to actually achieve?  Perhaps it is too big for just you.  But what if you were able to create a vision like Walt Disney did, that resonated in the very core of people who would gladly come to your aid to make it real? 

You have something in you that is waiting for you to unleash it into the world.  The very act of doing it will rock your world, and that of others as well.  Maybe it isn’t a multimillion dollar theme park, or a screen play, or an organization.  But whatever it is will carry the uniqueness of you – who you are – and the compilation of everything each of your individual experiences has prepared you for.  And if you bring it forward with the intention of making the world a better place, you will. 

Who are you to deny that you are meant for greatness?

Copyright Synchronistics Coaching & Consulting 2010.  All rights reserved.

Dream Big ~ Trust Big

Are you dreaming big enough?  If so, you may often feel overwhelmed by the seeming magnitude of what lies before you. 

As we entertain dreams, visions and goals that seem so large that they become daunting, we must not be intimidated by the seeming length or difficulty of the journey ahead of us.  I was reminded of this years ago on a skiing trip.  After an hour or so, the years that had passed since my last skiing excursion no longer seemed significant and my adventurous side led me to a very difficult black run, full of moguls and steep angles.  Once I embarked upon the run, I realized I was in way over my head.  At that moment the temperature dropped suddenly and a fog rolled in that was so thick that I could not see more than three feet ahead of me.  I began to panic.  I wanted more than ever to reach the bottom of the slope and became more fixated on having the run behind me than on the thrill of the experience itself. 

 As soon as my attention and focus went from the snow in front of me to the bottom of the steep slope, I lost control and came crashing to the ground, losing my skis and feeling the slap of the hard cold ground beneath me.  I managed to somehow to get up and put my skis back on, but before long my focus would shift and the same thing would happen again.  It was only when I resigned myself to pay attention to what was right in front of me that my body knew how to navigate each mogul.  When I let go of having to know exactly how I would get down that mountain and trust that I could make it a few feet at a time, I had everything I needed to succeed. 

I think that is how life is too.  When we feel dismayed at not having everything figured out right off the bat, we can ask ourselves what we can do right now that will lead us closer to our goals and trust that we will be given exactly what we need to continue our journeys right when we need it.  Sometimes conditions are not right for us to proceed full speed ahead, and circumstances take a turn that feel frustrating.  Often the skills we need are those that can only be developed through a series of challenges that require us to move out of our comfort zones.  We may see these events as setbacks and annoying diversions without realizing their perfect place in the larger orchestration of a course of events we are engaged in that has much greater implications than what we originally envisioned. 

Perhaps the whispers of our heart and the calls to greatness that we feel within our souls are essential components of a larger, collective plan that we each play a vital part in.  As we rise up to play these parts fully and wholeheartedly, we can revel in the beauty of its mysterious unfolding.  In the process, we will discover ourselves to be greater than we thought we were and use each moment of our lives to create something extraordinary for ourselves and others.

Copyright Synchronistics Coaching & Consulting 2010.  All rights reserved.

This post is an excerpt from an article called Living Large, published in my January ezine.  To subscribe (it’s free), and to access the rest of the article, go to www.DianeBolden.com/articles.   You will receive future monthly articles as well as my free report on 10 Traps Leaders Unwittingly Create for Themselves – and How to Avoid Them.