Well, the dust is finally settling, and the holiday decorations are (almost) packed up and put away for next year. For many, the holidays are a frenzied time – a rush to the finish line that has adrenaline spiking for days on end. Between running around trying to find the perfect gifts to sending out cards, preparing meals, entertaining family and friends and spending a lot of time around people we don’t often get to see, it can be exhausting.
Some of us were lucky enough to have a bit of down time before jumping back in to the excitement that the New Year brings. And others of us have simply been riding that wave that takes us from one activity to the next, with little time for transition. Though New Year’s Day has come and gone, it is never too late to take advantage of the demarcation that the end of one year and the beginning of another brings.
The turning of each year lends itself well to waxing reflective, calling to mind both the experiences in the past that have led us to the present moment, as well as what the future might hold – what magnificent things are bubbling up within us, just waiting to take form.
It’s curious that we often associate moments of reflection with major milestones (like a New Year), rather than as a continual process in our lives. Yet it’s easy to let the frenetic pace of business, the holidays, and personal affairs prevent us from enjoying the clarity of being alone with our thoughts, and even going beyond them into the silence of our own experience.
We get swept up in a kind of auto pilot mode, where we just do what is in front of us and go from one thing to the next, without a lot of thought.
But it is in the evaluation and reflection of our experiences that we receive insight – a vital gift that can become meaningful and empowering force in our lives.
Pressing on from one thing to the next without pausing long enough to integrate what we have learned deprives us of the gifts these experiences bring. It’s like finding a few wrapped presents with your name on them that were left behind in the festivities – and absentmindedly throwing them into a box instead of opening them up to see what’s inside.
Our experiences are uniquely designed to allow us to learn – about ourselves, others, and life itself. We learn about what works, what feels good, what doesn’t, who we are, what we are capable of, what we want more of (and less of too).
But only if we pause long enough to entertain the questions that allow us to unpack these gifts that are waiting to be opened.
If you have not yet afforded yourself the indulgence of conscious and intentional reflection, I encourage you to carve out some time to do so. Because the best goals, the best visions to move toward in the coming year will be those that align with the whispers of your heart – those that tap the infinite potential and wisdom that is already inside you. And you’ll never really know what those are until you take the time to go within and ask.
Below are some questions that can help you in this process. Some of these questions might seem more powerful to you than others – let yourself go where you are drawn with them. You may even want to take a quick look at them and then put them away and see what comes to you when your mind is empty of thoughts.
Or, you may scrap these questions and come up with different ones of your own. The important thing is to allow yourself the time to go within and listen with curiosity and earnestness.
QUESTIONS FOR YEAR-END REFLECTION
- As you reflect on this past year, what were your three or four most significant accomplishments, breakthroughs, and/or achievements?
- Looking back over the year, what (if anything) blocked or held you back as you moved toward your goals/objectives? How will you overcome those obstacles in the future?
- What were your biggest insights or realizations over the past year that you gained through your experiences?
- How will you apply what you learned this past year to what you want to create in the upcoming year?
- What are the top two or three things about your job/practice that you most want to be different this year?
- What two or three changes do you most want to see in your personal life?
- What significant challenges will face you this year? Personally? Professionally?
- What strengths will you rely on most to face the challenges that lie ahead?
- What qualities, skills, etc. could you develop within yourself to better arm you for the upcoming year?
- Picture yourself a year from now, looking back over the past year. What three or four accomplishments would you like to have achieved?
- What actions are you prepared to take to achieve your desired results for the upcoming year?
If you really want to supercharge your coming year, consider joining me and an intimate group of fellow leaders in the spring session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius, kicking off in April. This exclusive 13-week leadership development experience goes beneath the surface of what most programs deliver, to help you learn to unleash genius in yourself and those you lead.
Enrollment will be limited to eight participants. Join the waiting list to have access to registration before it opens to the public.
I look forward to another year ahead of navigating a path of discovery – one that will lead us all closer to our most precious goals, and allow us to make the most out of every experience we have – leaving everything we touch a little better off for the interaction – our teams, our customers, our colleagues, friends, family, and of course, ourselves.
Wishing you a wonderful and prosperous New Year ahead!
Imagine finding yourself in a dark room…It’s a room that was once lit but has since dimmed.
And you have been doing everything you can to turn that light back on. You’ve even gone so far as to build a contraption that allows you to generate electricity through your own manual effort, sort of like a giant hamster wheel.
The problem is you have to run continuously to produce the smallest splinter of light. And you find yourself pushing harder and faster to get that light to grow so that more of the room is illuminated once again.
Off in the distance, there is another room that glows brightly and warmly beckons to you. The radiance coming through the doorway of that space is pure and beautiful and you can almost feel its glow. But despite the draw of that warmly lit room, you stay right where you are. Instead of getting off the crazy hamster wheel that requires constant exertion and toil, you just keep running faster and faster.
And you are becoming exhausted.
This metaphor came to me in a moment of reflection. I had noticed a theme that I’ve seen echoed among several of my executive coaching clients – and in my own life as well, from time to time.
What used to work well no longer produces results. And that’s a problem. What was once easy and energizing begins to feel cumbersome and draining. And rather than moving you forward, in some cases it actually thwarts your progress.
But when it’s all you know, it can be difficult to let it go. You worked so hard to perfect those ways of being, of working, of relating. And it paid dividends in the past. You might have thought to yourself, “If I could just double down, and put a little more effort into it, a little more discipline, I could turn it all around,” right?
That’s what many of my clients thought. Maybe you can relate…
For some, the work they did won them a promotion. Their intense operational focus and ability to dig in and get results merited them an increased scope and elevated role. They became responsible for leading and empowering others to do the work they once focused the majority of their effort on. They were being called to make a bigger, more strategic impact, but their fierce and intense focus on operational details was preventing them from making that leap.
For others, it was work that once excited them but was no longer stimulating. They could do it in their sleep. Sure, they were good at it, but it was becoming a boring, tedious grind. It was harder to get out of bed in the morning. There was nothing to look forward to. And in their quiet moments, they dreamt of doing something bigger, bolder and more impactful.
Some even had ideas and projects they longed to pursue or propose. But they just couldn’t get themselves to break out of the ruts they were in, and/or doubted whether they really had what it took to do anything different.
And for many others, it was about working in a way that was simply not sustainable. They had a tendency to take on more than most, prioritize everything equally and live in constant fear of letting people down. So they continued running a race that was increasingly difficult to keep up with, let alone win. The stress and pressure of their environment was high, but small in comparison to the anxiety they heaped upon themselves.
Regardless of which group you find yourself in, there is a better way not far off in the distance. At some level you are probably aware that something has to give… You dream of feeling energized again, of being unencumbered and inspired and engaged in meaningful and fulfilling work. But you can’t get to that new place without being willing to leave the old one.
You can choose to stay in the dark, dreary room because it’s comfortable. It may no longer be satisfying, or even pleasant, but it’s familiar. Do you ever shy away from the light that is beckoning you to leave that space because you are afraid of what you’ll see or whether you’ll be able to handle it?
We all do that from time to time, even though…
The light reveals new possibilities for growth, significance and satisfaction. It not only illuminates the challenges and opportunities, but also your strengths – including some you may not have realized you have. And it ushers in new vitality, new energy and new clarity. When you summon the courage to leave your dark, dull room and follow the light, you’ll be filled with vigor and joy, and you’ll find your enthusiasm renewed, your passion reignited, even if you don’t believe that yet.
The light of new possibilities brings both freedom and flow. No more running like hell without getting anywhere. No more banging your head against a wall only to end up with throbbing pain. No more feelings of being trapped by your circumstances. Once you summon the courage to follow the light into new possibilities and ways of working, you’ll experience a momentum that propels you forward in a sustainable way.
I know this because I have experienced it firsthand myself. And over the last twenty plus years I have helped hundreds of executives just like you experience it too. I can tell you that there is simply nothing like it. And it has to be experienced to be believed.
That light that beckons to you is a call to step into something bigger and more satisfying. It invites you to release old, outworn ways of working that no longer serve you and step into your personal and professional best – to unleash your greatness, to make a bigger impact and a bigger contribution. And it brings with it not only new levels of performance and effectiveness, but also fulfillment that enhances your life both on and off the job.
The sad reality is, some of us stay in our dark rooms longer than others. But there is always a way out. Making that move requires resolve and determination.
It starts with a conscious decision and a commitment to yourself. You don’t have to have it all figured out. All you need to do is give yourself permission to be curious about it. Once you begin to entertain the idea that there is a better way, you are already on the road to finding it.
You can ask yourself, “What would it look like if things weren’t so hard? What small shifts could I make that would allow me to enjoy my work (and my life) more — without sacrificing my performance?”
Your reticular activating system will kick in and help you find the answers to your questions. You’ll notice things that previously escaped your attention and find yourself drawn to resources, people, and potential solutions. You’ll tap into your own wisdom and begin to discern what you must do next – what small changes you can make that could end up having the biggest impact.
And then you’ll need to summon the courage to act on those insights.
“The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.” – Mark Caine
When you answer this vital call to realize more of your true potential, magic happens. You can make a bigger impact doing meaningful work without sacrificing who you truly are. Best of all you’ll enjoy your life more. You become a shining example and a far more effective leader to others who will learn to make the same improvements in their own lives and careers.
The process can be unnerving. It requires you to let go of something you know in order to move into something you don’t. And though the rewards of making that move are profound, it isn’t always easy.
Having someone to guide and support you through the process can really help. I created The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius to assist high achieving executives just like you in making that vital leap with professional high level support and guidance, so you can move through it very quickly, with courage and grace.
The program is a distillation of the most impactful approaches and techniques that have helped my clients over the last twenty plus years to successfully affect their own personal and professional transformations. These are powerful methodologies I repeatedly utilize in my own life as well.
I’ll be personally guiding an intimate group of executives through this process over the next thirteen weeks utilizing a powerful blend of online training (that you’ll have lifetime access to), small group mastermind meetings and one-on-one coaching support.
What differentiates this program from all the others out there is that it isn’t about blindly following a recipe for success that attempts to make you someone you are not. The program is designed to help you move more deeply into who you truly are, so that you can connect with your own wisdom and allow it to guide you in ways that are authentic and natural to you, and lead you to your own personal uniqueness and strengths.
You’ll learn to leverage your experiences in ways that bring clarity and focus into your life, and experience lightness as you begin to let go of things you’ve been making yourself do all these years that have weighed you down and created unnecessary pressure and anxiety. All this while enjoying unprecedented levels of performance and energy that is sustainable – because it comes from the inside out.
Whether you decide to join me, or opt to go it alone, I encourage you with all my heart to exercise the courage to answer your own personal and professional call to greatness. Make the decision now to step out of that dimly lit room and into the light of possibility, expansion and growth.
If you’d like to chat about The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed program and get answers to any questions you may have about it, you can click here to schedule a call directly with me. But don’t wait too long. The fall session will be kicking off on Wednesday, September 22 and there are only a few seats remaining. To maximize interaction and individualized support, registration is capped at 8 to 10 people. Click here for more information or to save your seat.
Does your organization sponsor professional development? To assist you in getting approval to use corporate funds for your registration in the program, download the business case for participating in the program.
My recent post, Don’t Let Your To Do List Keep You From Living Your Best Life, was born of a growing awareness that a fixation on to-do lists and time management systems can actually work against you if you’re not careful. That being said, with or without to-do lists, there is never a shortage of things that need tending to.
So how do you get stuff done without becoming trapped in your system? Here are ten tips for how not to be a slave to your to-do list:
- 1) Write things down to get them out of your head, but don’t let them become set in stone. You are just freeing up brain space so that you can take a look at the gook in there and sort through it. Think of your list more as a collection of options than an inventory of things that all have to be done. Challenge yourself on whether these tasks (a) really need to get done at all (b) really need to get done now and (c) really need to be done by you. The more often you engage this filter, the more your to-do list will become an accurate of a reflection what you really, honestly need to do.
- 2) Don’t allow your list to be something that hangs over your head and haunts you. Procrastination is largely a function of avoiding a decision we think will be painful. But the resistance this procrastination reinforces and feeds ultimately becomes more painful than anything it could protect you from. So, make some decisions about the things you will commit yourself to, and those you will give yourself permission to delegate, defer, or dump.
- 3) Schedule some time each day to do something you really love – even if it is only twenty minutes or a half-hour. Dedicate yourself fully to it – do whatever you can not to let anything interfere with it. This little gift you give yourself will make you feel good throughout your whole day, and the energy you gain by doing something that feeds you will help you to get more of the mundane things done in less time and with less effort.
- 4) If there is something that must be done by a certain time, designate a block of time to work on it. This is especially helpful with big projects that can (and often need to be) broken down into smaller steps. Even a half-hour here and there will allow you to make progress. When you put it in your calendar you can be certain that you will get to it, and it will not weigh heavy on your mind and suck up energy that you can use to do other things.
- 5) Remember that little things expand. So designate blocks of time to tend to the little things that you think will only take a few minutes but often end up taking three or four times longer than you anticipated. These little things expand for many reasons – sometimes we just underestimate how long they will take, but other times we linger over them and allow them to become avoidance mechanisms that keep us from doing what’s really important (and nurturing for ourselves and others). This could be anything from checking email to scheduling meetings to going through a pile of papers. When you set limits on how much time you will designate for these things, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can get through them.
- 6) Allow for flexibility so that you can listen to your intuition on what to do in each moment. As you go to undertake a task, pay attention to how you feel about it. If a wall goes up as you sit down to do something and you just can’t seem to make any progress or if you keep running into obstacles, it may be an indication that it just isn’t the best time for you to work on it. You may want to designate another time to work on that thing and in its place, do something you have more energy around. Often when you come back to what you were snagged on, you will find that things flow much better.
- 7) Don’t let things sit for too long. If it can be done (or delegated) in the time it takes you to write it down or find another time to do it – and you are not in the middle of something more important, just take care of it quickly. This nugget applies to little things – like dropping someone a quick note or filing something in its proper place instead of putting it in a pile you have to sort through later.
- 8) Reflect and celebrate. At the end of the day, spend some time reflecting on what brought you most satisfaction, rather than all the things you have yet to do. Celebrate the progress you are making and the degree to which you really brought your whole self to whatever it is you did that day.
- 9) Be sure to zoom out and not just in. Taking care of your to-do list involves a lot of keeping your head down. So, make sure you take some time to look up and out every once in a while. Check-in with yourself on the bigger picture of what you most want to create, achieve and become and let that vision guide your actions. Doing this regularly will keep you from getting caught in the weeds and allow you to have a bigger, more strategic impact.
- 10) Rest in the knowing that you will get done that which is most important. You no longer need to run that loop in your head that has you worried that something will fall through the cracks. You have it handled, so you can devote your full attention to whatever you choose to do in each moment.
To-do lists are only a small part of moving the needle and making the impact you are capable of. For more tips on achieving and sustaining the success you desire, download my special report: Why Real Leaders Don’t Set Goals (and what they do instead).
When I used to sit down to eat meals as a kid, I would save the food I loved the most for last. I wanted to get all the other stuff out of the way – those squishy potatoes, the chewy meat, the cooked carrots. What I really wanted to savor was the green beans. So I would grin and bear the other stuff – and often by the time I got to those delightfully garlicky green beans, I was full.
One day I noticed that for years, I have had a tendency to approach my life that way. There are never a shortage of “shoulds” that hang over my head. Run this errand or that, take care of such and such, schedule time with so and so, close the loop on any number of things. And more often than I like to admit, I have lived in constant fear that one or more of these things would fall through the cracks – causing me to let someone down, or show up unprepared, or drop the ball on something altogether. So I learned to make lists that would allow all these things that swirled around my head to land somewhere.
Making lists was a good thing in many ways. It did free up space for me and keep me organized. The trouble was that the lists became like that food on my dish that I felt like I had to endure before I could let myself enjoy the really good stuff. And just when I thought I made some headway and was close to experiencing the sweetness of what I really wanted to do, something else would land on my plate.
What I really wanted to do is play. Not the kind of play that people do when they are avoiding something and just want to escape. I wanted to create. I wanted to write. I wanted to think outside the box. I wanted to do something that scares me just because I can. I wanted to push my limits. I wanted to tap the well that has my biggest, grandest most precious ideas and visions. And I wanted to make them real.
I have to admit – it did unnerve me a little because what I wanted to do was totally unchartered. There were no predetermined answers. It wasn’t finite. It hadn’t been done before – at least not by me. It wasn’t something I could check the box on and be done with.
And I worried that I may not have what it takes. I feared that once I allowed myself to stand in that space that I may not know what to do, or that even if I did I might get it wrong. The thought of it made me feel a little naked, exposed, vulnerable.
But I wanted it anyway.
And then I saw that though I was admittedly afraid of failing, of faltering, of being in a space where I had no idea of what I was doing, it seemed that what I had been even more afraid of was my own joy.
Because the drudge of a to do list, while not necessarily all that gratifying, was familiar and held the illusion of allowing me to be productive, and responsible and a good girl – the kind that eats everything on her plate. And I traded that for the pleasure of relishing my green beans while I was still able to enjoy them.
I thought I was making progress when I did away with my to do list altogether. I busted it to pieces. Instead of having a master list that I let run my life, I decided to identify the things that I thought really needed to get done and then I just scheduled time to do them. But then I noticed that I still didn’t have any time on there to do the things I really wanted to do. There were no green beans at all.
What I was trying to do was not do away with my to do list as much as trying to get through my to do list more efficiently. I was eating faster and playing games with myself to make getting through the meat and potatoes a little less onerous, so I could distract myself from realizing that I still wasn’t getting what I really wanted.
Maybe you can relate? Do you feel like you are running in circles and even getting a lot done, but still unsatisfied and wanting more? Longing to do strategic, move the needle kind of work, but stuck in the weeds of the operational day to day check the boxes stuff?
Are you telling yourself that you can’t have what you really want until you “get through” a whole host of things you don’t really want to do? And feeling used up and unfulfilled at the end of the day?
Does it all really need to get done?
When I took a closer, more honest look at my to do list – with the help of a friend who really challenged me on what I thought HAD to get done right away, I realized that I was clinging to things that no one was really going to care all that much about if they didn’t get done. Some of them didn’t need to happen in the next few days or weeks. And others really didn’t need to happen at all. I gave myself permission to hit delete on a few – whew! I moved others out a bit. And in their place, I designated time to write and create.
I gotta tell you, now that I’ve been doing it for awhile, it feels darn good. It’s nurturing. It feeds me. And I have a feeling doing these things is more related to my true purpose on earth than checking those boxes ever could.
So I challenge you – what is it that has been calling to you lately? What juicy thing on your plate have you not let yourself enjoy? Take a look at the things you are making yourself do first (or instead), and do an honest assessment of what really needs to get done to allow you to live the life you really want to live.
You might think letting go of things on your to do list is irresponsible. That it’ll get you into trouble. I used to think that too. But what I’ve found is that it is far more negligent for me to hold back on the things my heart most wants to do – the work I am most invested in – the calls that beckon me to see what I’m really made of and bring more of myself into the world.
And I would venture to say the same is true for you.
If you’re interested in more on how to lead your best life – in a way that allows you to experience extraordinary results with less effort and more joy, I encourage you to check out The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Unique Genius. Though the spring group session is now full, you can join the waiting list to be notified of the next session.
Also – there is now an Executive Track available that blends the program with ongoing 1:1 coaching for an individualized and custom tailored experience. If you have questions or would like to discuss which version of the program is right for you, you can click here to schedule a call directly with me.
The other day I came across a piece of paper that brought back a rather unsettling memory of a pivotal conversation I had long ago, about something that was very important to me. I didn’t realize just what an impact it had on me until I stopped to recall it – and consider all the things that have unfolded in the years that passed.
I filmed a video about it that you can find on my LinkedIn page.
I’d love to hear your thoughts after you watch – you can leave a comment right on LinkedIn. And if we are not yet connected there, hit that blue “Connect” button while you’re at it.
Sometimes it takes a while to embody the things you strive for. The journey may have a lot of twists and turns and ups and downs. But it’s definitely well worth traveling.
If you’d like some support on your journey, there are still a couple of seats remaining in the spring session of The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed – The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius kicking off on Wednesday (3/3). It’s a thirteen-week leadership development program that will help you move beyond the conditioning that keeps you from rising to the extraordinary results you are capable of achieving – with less effort and more joy along the way.
I’d love to have the opportunity to work with you.
Here’s to the journey – and the ever-unfolding destination!
Do you remember what it was like to be unconstrained by the world’s limitations?
Maybe you were a young child, wanting to fly to the moon or discover buried treasure. How long was it before the people around you compelled you to be more “practical and realistic”?
They didn’t mean any harm. In fact, those people likely had your best interests in mind. They wanted to help you learn the rules for engagement in a world of challenges and limitations– to keep you from experiencing pain and disappointment.
Chances are you do that for your own children. I know I do.
But over time, the rules for engagement can become more constraining than they are empowering. Especially when those rules don’t really apply the way they used to.
Have you noticed that many of the old, ingrained ways of getting things done and achieving success are no longer effective, or even relevant?
We are all experiencing it – on both an individual and a collective level, in our homes, our communities and our organizations. And we need to find a better way of dealing with these emerging challenges and opportunities. To do that, we must transcend old, well-worn, even tried and true methods that just aren’t working anymore.
The time has come for us to access the creativity, ingenuity, curiosity and wonder of that little kid that knew no limits and had the willingness and determination to blaze a new trail.
We need to unearth the GENIUS that each of us was born with – a part of ourselves that all too often gets silenced and constricted by the very conditioning that was intended to keep us safe.
That’s what this week’s video is about. It marks the opening of public registration for the spring session The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed – How to Access the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius, which will kick off on March 3.
For more information or to reserve your seat, visit www.UnleashtheExtraordinary.com.
Here’s to your Genius!
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to life the life which he imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
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 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 you will focus your time, energy and resources into accomplishing. It is an optimal time to reacquaint yourself with your dreams and visions, your purpose and values, and the question of how you can become a living example of that which you 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
The above article contains excerpts from my book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming a Real Leader – How to Unleash Genius in Yourself and Those You Lead, available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
“What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”
~ Robert H. Schuller
I have come across the above quote often and pondered it reflectively. It inspires me to think big – contemplating all the many things I have dreamed of creating or being a part of. I often feel compelled to make a list – and have done so many times. I encourage my clients to do this as well.
But the most interesting and show stopping part of that quote for me is the idea of “failure”.
It’s easy to think of shooting for the moon when the idea of crashing down to the ground doesn’t enter the picture. We can dream and scheme all we want, but in order to make our dreams real, we must take action. And when we do, this idea of failure seems to have a way of creeping in despite our best attempts to move forward in spite of it.
Failure means different things to different people. But I think the most debilitating thing about the idea of failure is having to experience or endure some kind of pain – pain of rejection, embarrassment, loss, financial ruin – not to mention its actual physical variations.
The interesting thing to me about pain is that – thankfully – it is usually finite. It comes and it goes. And while we don’t always have any control over whether we experience it, we do seem to play a part in how long it lasts and how uncomfortable it gets.
As a kid, getting immunizations was terrifying. I remember how worked up I would get before the needle even came close to my skin. And I’ve watched my kids do the same thing – even screaming or wailing before contact was ever actually made. But a few seconds later, the injections were completed before the kids even realized it.
They got off the exam table and immediately went onto other things – except perhaps when one of them needed a little more sympathy and deliberately focused on the site of the shot and 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 contemplate the pain that accompanies what we believe would 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 really needs to be.
But we can also exercise resilience and determination in our ability to bounce back and focus on something that will allow us to move forward in spite of an otherwise unpleasant experience.
Because what it really comes down to is what your experience – regardless of the way it turns out – has given you, rather than cost you. People who have accomplished extraordinary things in the world are the first to tell you that what many refer to as “failure” has plagued them time after time – and many will tell you those experiences were prerequisites for their success.
What differentiates them from those who allowed “failure” to defeat them is that they picked themselves up, figured out what they could learn, and moved forward armed with a new awareness, a new understanding, and a 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?
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What are you longing to create for yourself?
And what do you need to let go of to allow it to fully take root?
We are a goal driven society that is conditioned to seek more.
Our egos desire more money, more fame and prestige, and more stuff. A deeper part of ourselves longs for more peace, more meaning, and more purpose in our lives. We want to move beyond our previous realizations of what we’ve already accomplished to master newer, better ways of doing things—whether that be what we create in our lives or in our organizations—and as leaders what we can inspire others to do as well.
What if you started with less instead of more?
Though it is tempting to occupy ourselves with thoughts of how we can go about achieving all of this and what we need to do more of, perhaps what we really need to start with is what we need to do less of – what we need to let go of to create the space for something new to come in.
We are constantly evolving as human beings.
It is so easy to look to the past to define who we are through the things we’ve already done – goals we’ve achieved, titles we’ve acquired, and creations we have built. Our previous experiences coagulate to form an identity that is easy to confuse with our true nature.
The fact of the matter is, you are not your accomplishments, your creations, or the sum of the various roles you play in your life – manager, director, vice president, mother, father, friend, son, daughter, etc. You are much, much more than that. Your potential is limitless.
And yet, we limit ourselves by definitions of who we think we are – or should be.
They filter the experiences we allow ourselves to have and compel us to define the form that our deepest longings should take. To be happy, we reason – we must get that promotion, achieve this or that goal, hit that target. So we continue to go through the motions, doing the kinds of things we’ve always done – on a sort of autopilot.
Some of this may bring satisfaction, and some may lead to discontentment.
We need to attune ourselves to that which brings us the most of what we truly desire and open ourselves to the possibility that what we really want may need to come in a form that has previously been undefined for us. In short, we must allow ourselves to surrender what we think we know to open to the mystery that is unfolding in each of our lives.
Easier said than done, right?
How exactly do you go about letting go of the known when it is all you know?
We can take our cues from nature. Snakes and other reptiles shed their skin, trees drop their leaves, and caterpillars create cocoons in which their forms entirely dissolve before recreating themselves in the form of butterflies. Even a fish in a bowl cannot stay in water that contains its excrement – the waste must either be emptied and replaced with new water, or absorbed by something else that will remove it from the fish’s environment. Without engaging in these renewing processes, these creatures will die. And so it is with us. Many of us are already walking around encased in layers of old, dead stuff that needs to be released.
What are you holding onto in your life that has run its course?
- What are the old outmoded ways of doing things that no longer bring you energy?
- What are the things you’ve acquired that you no longer need?
- What beliefs are you holding onto that are no longer true for you?
Pay attention to the times that you feel constricted, anxious, or tired and in those moments ask what you can let go of. Don’t be afraid of the answer. Though it may frighten you because it introduces an element of the unknown, following these insights will always lead to freedom and liberation.
Your computer can only handle so much data, and the same is true of you.
If you do not delete old email and get rid of files that have been accumulating over the years, and if you continue to add new programs without deleting old ones, you will find that it becomes sluggish and unresponsive. Just as freeing up space allows your computer to process things more quickly, so too will clearing your own personal space (whether of things or thoughts) allow you to access new levels of clarity and creativity.
Space brings freedom.
You will breathe easier, be more present in every action and interaction you partake of, and bring more of who you really are to what you do. And you will open the space of possibility that will allow something to come in that may surprise and delight you. Rather than being something you slave away for, it will simply emerge and reveal itself to you.
And of course, any work you do on yourself will serve as a form of leadership for others who, like you, seek their own answers and could benefit from your example of unearthing what is possible and allowing it to take form in new and unexpected ways.
Taking the time to discern what is and isn’t working in your life and up level your game becomes easier and more fun when you have support.
If you are ready to do a deep dive to supercharge your leadership and your life, I encourage you to check out The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius, an exclusive 13-week leadership development program designed to help high achieving (and often overextended) leaders minimize pressure and stress so they can access their best work — and enjoy their lives more both on and off the job.
Though the spring program has now closed, registration for the fall program will open soon. To get on the waiting list, email Support@DianeBolden.com.
Can you recall the last time you were faced with great change, challenge and/or uncertainty?
Times of great upheaval and transition require that we bring our very best to the scene, and yet they also have a way of unnerving us. When you don’t know what to expect and feel as though much of what is happening around you is out of your control, it’s easy to begin to doubt your ability to successfully navigate through it (not to mention lead others to do the same).
Check out this video for insight on how to summon and embody your true strength — one that isn’t dependent on external circumstances, but rather self reliant and resilient in the face of any situation.
I hope you enjoy it!
If you’re experiencing upheaval in the face of change, check out the The Pinocchio Principle Unleashed: The Real Leader’s Guide to Accessing the Freedom & Flow of Your Authentic Genius, an exclusive 13-week leadership development program designed to help high achieving (and often overextended) leaders minimize pressure and stress so they can access their best work — and enjoy their lives more both on and off the job.
Though the spring program has now closed, registration for the fall program will open soon. To get on the waiting list, email Support@DianeBolden.com.