“You ready for the holidays?”
It’s a question people often ask each other this time of year. I don’t know if I’m ever ready – from the standpoint of having all the boxes checked, anyway.
I know there are people out there – you may be one of them – who finished their holiday shopping weeks ago, had their houses beautifully decorated on or before Thanksgiving day, and seem to find the time to send handmade cards to everyone they know. I have secretly dreamt of being one of those people, and maybe someday I will be.
I tend to identify more with those still scurrying around at the last minute. You know, the ones dashing to the mall on Christmas eve for that one last present they forgot about and return home to feverishly wrap gifts before people come over – all the while swearing that next year will be different.
What I really long for is to simply enjoy every aspect of the holidays.
It is a season of giving, sharing, and celebrating something bigger than ourselves. It brings us together and transforms our everyday lives into something sacred.
And this opportunity is always available to us.
With every gift we buy or wrap, every card we send, or every decoration we hang, we have the ability to infuse it with presence – our ability to be truly engaged not only with whatever it is we are doing, but with the bigger reason of WHY we are doing it – even if we get a late start.
Perhaps the ideal is not in being able to do more things sooner, but to put more of ourselves into the things we are able to do now despite whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.
When people pour their hearts into whatever they are doing, you can feel it.
The cards that arrive in our mailbox that have been perfunctorily generated don’t seem to move us as much as those people have taken the time to hand write something on – even if it is just our name. Likewise, the gifts that had some element of thought in them often end up meaning more to us than those someone spent a lot of money on. The true spirit of giving is more about the spirit than the gift itself.
And the spirit of giving and celebration doesn’t have to end in December.
We have the ability to enrich every moment of our lives with it. Albert Camus once said, “Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.” That means forgetting about all our preoccupations and busyness and being right here, right now – truly engaged in the purpose of whatever it is we are doing and deeply connected to whoever we are with.
In business and in life, this practice separates the most truly prosperous and successful people from all the rest. They have a knack for making others feel valued and for infusing meaning into whatever it is they do or invite others to do. They spend their time doing what is most important and pour their hearts and souls into it. As a result, they are living examples of whatever they believe most strongly in.
Perhaps this is the true art of giving, living, and leading – one that transcends holidays and spills over into our every day lives.
It’s never too late to start bringing more presence and engagement into your life amidst the frenzy of a crazy schedule and ongoing demands, despite the time of year. 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.
Wishing you and yours a beautiful and blessed holiday!
One day when my kids were younger, they had a play date with some friends. I heard one of them telling the other that Santa Claus wasn’t real. My son, who was eight years old at the time, vehemently defended the jolly old man, with elaborate explanations of why something not easily proven was worth believing in anyway.
It reminded me of my own childhood.
I had to laugh, as I flashed back to one of my own experiences with a little girl in my neighborhood who made fun of me for believing that a fat man in a red coat actually came down my chimney every year. I was so mad that, when she wasn’t looking, I broke all her crayons and put them back in the box (and spent the rest of the holiday season worrying that I had just put myself on the naughty list).
I have since learned that it is okay if everyone doesn’t believe what I do.
And if he hasn’t already, my son will learn that too. But he is the one who taught me something that day. I was buoyed by his unwavering belief and faith in something he’s never really seen and inspired by his example.
I can’t help but believe that those who trust in something magical will experience that magic in ways the skeptics will not. And I think the same is true in life.
There will always be someone around to tell us what cannot be done.
And there will also always be people who, upon being so told, will do it anyway. Their faith, determination, and belief in something they have yet to see will allow them to persevere until their dreams become reality.
One of my favorite authors on personal and spiritual growth, Alan Cohen, once said “You do not need to get others to believe in your truth. You just need to live it.”
Trust, faith, and perseverance go a long way.
In a world where much is uncertain and the old success formulas no longer seem to work, I believe it is more important than ever to trust in what we know to be true in hearts, even if our minds cannot figure it all out. It may go against what we have been conditioned to believe, see, and do – but perhaps this makes it even more important.
To bust out of old paradigms that keep us from realizing our greatness, perhaps we need to stop questioning what is possible and start challenging our limits instead. As we do, we will begin to make manifest that which we previously only dreamed was possible and, through our example, show others the way to rise.
Believing what we want to see is especially important when creating our future. But it is only one component of a vital process I’ll be covering in my upcoming online course and group intensive, The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom and Flow. Stay tuned for more information 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.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity… It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
– Melodie Beattie
Someone once sent me the above quote in a card.
I remember being very moved when I read it. It speaks to our ability to interrupt what seems like a perpetual condition of restless yearning. From such an early age, we become conditioned to always look for more – to achieve more, to have more, to become more. With such an orientation, even the fruits of our labor are not fully embraced before we feel compelled to run off and do something else.
Gratitude is a state of being rather than doing.
It is a matter of what we focus on. All of our striving and yearning keeps us fixated on what we do not yet have, but desperately want. It leaves us in a state of lack, feeling as though we must compensate for something. Gratitude reverses that and allows us to soak up and truly experience the fullness of what is already ours. In gratitude, we can fully appreciate the richness of life around us – no matter what it looks like. From that state, we can more fully connect with those we love and appreciate and truly enjoy each moment as it unfolds.
Soon the day we call Thanksgiving will be upon us.
It brings with it the opportunity to celebrate – if only for a day – the richness and bounty that is ours. But this state of appreciation and celebration does not need to stop after the day is done.
For all that we want, there is much that we already have.
When we shift our minds into states of gratitude, we are likely to act in ways that bring more to be thankful for. As I love and appreciate the important people in my life, I become more lovable. As I give my time and attention to others, I realize there is a place within me from which I have much more to give. Even with the things I really want in life, I can begin to realize the small (and big ways) in which those things are already here – and be fully present to the manner in which they are already unfolding, trusting in life’s beautiful mystery.
No matter who you are or what your life is like, you have something to be grateful for.
It has been said that whatever your place your attention, energy, and focus on will expand. Perhaps this is the true art and power of gratitude – our ability to be in a place of joy and abundance and magnify it in such a way that it truly enhances the quality of our own lives, and everyone around us as well.
If you find yourself in an environment that is difficult to appreciate or feel that what you really want is a change of some sort, gratitude might be a difficult place to start to begin crafting your desired future. In my upcoming online course and group intensive, The Real Leader’s Guide to Freedom & Flow, I teach high achieving professionals strategies for leveraging their experiences to move closer to their ideal vision so they can make a bigger impact doing meaningful, inspiring work and enjoy their lives more – both on and off the job. Stay tuned for more information or click here to get on the waiting list and get first priority (with no obligation) at the limited spots that will soon become available.
Ever notice that just when you get comfortable, life has a way of shaking things up? Some people seem to enjoy change more than others. Most of us prefer to be the ones doing the changing – it brings newness along with a sense of control – we are at the helms, steadfastly steering our ships. But imagine if you will, that a massive wave summoned by a hurricane has ripped the captain’s wheel right off the ship and you are left clinging to something that no longer has any power. The tighter you grip it, the less energy you have to deal with your circumstances in a way that will truly serve you (and everyone around you as well).
At times like these, we often pray for the storm to pass – for things to revert back to the way they were – or for a specific course of events that we believe would be life’s perfect solution. These solutions are based on what we think we know – which is largely a product of what we have already seen and experienced. And relying upon the patterns and strategies that worked for us in the past is often inadequate for our present and emerging challenges.
The world is changing and so are we.
We tend to strive for comfort and familiarity, even when what’s comfortable isn’t necessarily effective or even satisfying anymore. We wish and pray that the chaos be removed and order be restored. But often life’s little disturbances are exactly what we need to reach our true potential and escape complacency. Perhaps as Eckhardt Tolle wrote in The Power of Now, “…what’s appears to be in the way IS the way.”
Stormy seas (and life’s sudden surprises) have a way of testing our resolve and our resiliency. Pressure brings out our extremes – for better or worse. And fear does funny things to people. At its worst, it produces panic – a physical state that literally disables the brain’s ability to think clearly. At one extreme a person is frozen by fear and at the other he will thrash about like a drowning victim who pulls his rescuers under the water with him. The key to surviving a seeming assault of this kind is learning to relax and stay calmly aware of our surroundings so that we can identify and creatively utilize the resources at our disposal.
One of the most critical resources in our control when all else seems beyond it is our perspective.
The way in which we view things determines the story we tell ourselves about what’s happening, which directly influences the responses we will have. If we believe we are helpless victims at the mercy of something that seeks to destroy us, we will become bitter, resentful and apathetic. In this state our true power remains dormant. We collude with our view of reality to create a condition that validates our doomsday stories and sink even deeper into the abyss. Those who try to rescue us from our self imposed paralysis risk being dragged beneath the current created by our own negativity.
If, however, we view our predicaments as adventures and see them as opportunities to give things all we’ve got, we reach deeply within ourselves and tap reserves of courage, wisdom and ingenuity we never realized we had. In the proverbial belly of the whale we find our inner grit and creatively rise up to life’s challenges in ways that transform us and everyone around us as well. We become the heroes of our own stories.
Regardless of who you are and what you do, there will come a time when the plateau you have been walking upon takes a steep turn in one direction or the other and you will be required to do something that stretches you beyond your usual way of doing things.
Perhaps it will be in your career. The work that fulfilled you at one point in your life may no longer be enough. You might find yourself doing something very well but suddenly devoid of the gusto you once did it with. It could be the company you keep – people who at one time shared your interests and passions but who you suddenly find yourself no longer wanting to spend a lot of time with. Maybe it will be your lifestyle. The objects and material possessions you that once gave you joy could one day feel more like clutter or distractions. These things become like shells that the hermit crab has outgrown. The crab must release its previous home and step bravely and vulnerably into the unknown in order to find something more spacious.
The quest for a new shell and even the new shell itself may feel daunting, clumsy and overwhelming. But the act of letting go of the old to make room for the new allows us to evolve and realize our true potential. Anything less will ultimately become imprisoning. When we allow ourselves room to grow, life’s little and big disturbances are not so daunting. We know there is more to us than meets the eye and finally step into our own greatness. And as we do this for ourselves, we model the way for others to do the same.
For more tips on navigating through change and uncertainty, check out my book, The Pinocchio Principle ~ Becoming a Real Leader, available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
OK. This week’s video is definitely not me in my most attractive moments. But I offer it to you in hopes that it will give you some levity in a season that can get quite stressful if we let it.
I have learned over the years to keep things in perspective – and the ones who have probably taught me the most on that are my kids. I took my inspiration – and my lead – from them on this one.
For more on Lightening Up and Keeping Things in Perspective:
Do you ever feel as though your life is just one big to do list that never gets completed?
Well, if you do you’re not alone. Many of us feel as though a starting gun goes off at the beginning of the day and the hours that follow seem a lot like a marathon with no finish line. Some spend their nights dreaming of the things they worked on during the day or what has yet to be done. And others lie awake thinking about it. It reminds me of the poor guy in Greek mythology, Sisyphus, who was condemned to roll a great boulder to the top of a hill only to have it roll back down just before he reached the summit.
I was feeling this way recently, and in the midst of the craze I was aware of a longing to escape from the tyranny I had created for myself. And it really is a self created tyranny. So much of our lives is dictated by the habits and patterns we fall into and the way we think about things. The danger is when we become so tangled up in routines and thoughts that we forget that we are the ones who created them. A good coach can help you pinpoint the underlying patterns that are the root of the anxiety you are experiencing – so that you can take steps to alleviate your suffering. And with practice, we can all learn to do this for ourselves as well.
I don’t know if I have this whole thing licked just yet, but I believe I’m making progress. I thought it might be helpful to share the process I went through. Though the solution I came up with may not be the right one for you, the process itself may help you find one that is a perfect fit.
(1) GET A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE.
When you get to that point where you feel something’s got to give, the most powerful thing you can do is find a way to pull yourself up and out for a bit – so that instead of being immersed in your pattern, you can simply observe it. I noticed that I was in a continual state of churning — so preoccupied with wanting to keep working at things on my list that I had little patience for anything else that required my attention, including my kids. I was acting in a way that was inconsistent with my true values. And I didn’t like what I saw.
It became apparent that I was having trouble shifting gears from achieving my work related goals to giving energy to other equally important parts of my life. I realized the pressure I was experiencing to finish everything before I could attend to what was next was largely self imposed. What I really want is to experience a sense of ease and lightness in the things that I do — to enjoy not just the outcome, but also the process of achieving my goals and living my life itself – all areas of my life.
(2) CREATE A SYSTEM THAT SUPPORTS YOUR NEW PERSPECTIVE.
Ask yourself the question, what do I need to do to align my actions with my new way of thinking? What new habits or patterns can I create that will better serve me? I had to remind myself that finishing everything on my to do list is a pipe dream that only leads to disappointment. I remembered my own advice to clients – use your never ending “to do” list as a “maybe I’ll do list” so that your mind can rest in knowing that nothing is going to fall through the cracks. With that in mind, I created the following system for myself:
- Each day, I identify a list of my top three to five priority tasks from my “maybe I’ll do list” as well as some additional items that would be great to do but okay to leave undone if necessary. I enter these things on a “THINGS TO DO TODAY” list on my calendar in an appointment slot at the beginning of the day. I also create a “THINGS I DID TODAY” entry as an appointment slot at the end of the day.
- Throughout the day, as I accomplish things, I transfer them from my “THINGS TO DO” list to my “THINGS I DID” list, and take delight as the former list gets smaller while the latter grows larger. (It’s even a bigger thrill for me than checking a box!)
- At the end of the day I spend twenty minutes to stop, assess and plan for the next day. I acknowledge myself for what I have completed. I look at what remains on my “THINGS TO DO LIST” for that day and transfer any incomplete items to my “THINGS TO DO” list for the next day (which leaves my THINGS TO DO list for that day blank and gives me a feeling of closure – woo hoo!). I take a look at my calendar and my “maybe I’ll do list” to assess what my priorities are for the following day and add them to the next day’s list. Then I clean off my desk and go pick up my kids.
Granted, there will be days where all heck breaks loose and I’m unable to follow my system the way I’ve planned it. And that’s OK. The more I follow it, the more engrained and natural it will become. My goal is to change my feeling of being out of control to become more intentional and conscious about the way I use my time. So any little change will be progress. I encourage you to be kind to yourself as you endeavor to change your habits and patterns as well.
(3) BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
You can start this before you go to bed at night. Envision yourself waking with energy, enthusiasm and inspiration. I like to take a quick glance at my “THINGS TO DO LIST” for the next day with gratitude that I will have everything I need to accomplish it. I believe this allows my subconscious mind to begin working on things while I sleep – which will potentially lead to new insights when I awaken.
As you begin your day, get very clear on what you’d like to experience by day’s end — and every moment in between and see if you can experience that state before you even begin. See if you can remember the last time you were in your productive zone, where you accomplished more than you thought possible. Move into that feeling and replicate it for yourself. If you find yourself becoming anxious, stressed, or slipping into old patterns, come back to your intention and desired perspective, take a deep breath and let it inform your action.
The important thing is to tap into your inner genius to find the answers you most need. I’ve found this to be so important that I’ve written a book about it. It’s called The Pinocchio Principle ~ Being Real: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be and it will be released on 1/11/11. I’ve also decided to work with a small group of eight people to lead them through this process (based on the book) as well. A few spots still remain. We’ll meet at my office in Phoenix for 90 minutes twice a month for a period of six months, beginning in January. Contact me at Diane@DianeBolden.com if you are interested in participating. The cost is $900 ($75 a session) and payment plans are available.
Stay tuned for more information and subscribe to my free monthly ezine at www.DianeBolden.com to hear about free upcoming events, videos and teleseminars.
Though comments are currently closed, please feel free to email me at Diane@DianeBolden.com with your feedback, questions and thoughts. Have a specific challenge you’d like to see a post written about? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you!
As I write this post, it is about 5:30 pm on a Wednesday afternoon and I’m sitting on my patio gazing over my back fence at a brand new twenty foot high three car garage that recently took the place of what used to be a spectacular mountain view. I write about this incident because it set into motion some interesting and curious events that led me through an array of emotions. My perspective initially produced sadness, irritation, anger and disgust, which gradually gave way to complacency and ultimately – though I never would have believed it – transformed not only into acceptance, but gratitude.
Now, believe me, if this post had been written the day after we met the man – a developer – who moved into the house across the alley from us – my tone and words would have been quite different. We were shocked and outraged. Wanting to be neighborly, my husband and I introduced ourselves. With a very matter of fact manner , the man led us to his back yard and explained his plans. Our efforts to become better acquainted were met with the words “You all are being very gracious, but it is not like I’m asking your permission.” I remember watching his lips move but not quite receiving the impact of his words until we got back home and almost simultaneously uttered to each other – “Did he really say that?!”
To be fair, the man is a competitive water skier, and a large structure to house his equipment is apparently a necessity for him. It is his property after all, and he has every right to build what he wants there – though it seems a bit peculiar that the new construction was reserved for his various vehicles while he apparently has elected to use the existing garage as his living quarters. The other strange thing is that this monstrously high structure actually eviscerated his own view of the mountain – a detail that I didn’t actually notice until the initial anger subsided and my mind became curiously reflective.
But the event spun a whole series of reactions into play. Over the initial few weeks after we met the man, we were consumed with bitterness which cast a long, dark shadow over our usually very happy household. We couldn’t look out the window without feeling irritation and decided that we didn’t want to live in a continual state of anger. So we began looking for a new house. Our initial efforts were somewhat non eventful, but we did actually end up finding something not far from our old home that we really liked. It was a short sale. We made an offer that got accepted after what seemed like an excruciatingly long period of waiting during which we put our current home on the market for sale or lease.
When the sign went up in our front yard, I felt an intense sadness that grew more and more pronounced when people came into the house to view it. My husband and I both were struck with how much we loved our home, the memories we shared in it (including watching all three of our children grow from babies to toddlers and beyond), and the things we did over the years to make it our own – not the least of which was a fairly substantial remodel.
The realization that we were actually moving was bittersweet. There were many things the new house offered that the old one didn’t, and we were excited about the possibilities. But we began to notice that the longer things played out, the less enamored we were and the more we became focused on what we would be losing. Well, as luck would have it, the sellers defaulted on their contract and we ended up canceling the sale.
And now, I couldn’t be happier! The monstrosity across the alley that once produced feelings of bitterness and resentment is a constant reminder for me to count my blessings and remember what is truly important in my life. I am grateful to have a home at all – which I realize is more than many people have right now. But I am most grateful for the new appreciation and insight this change in perspective have given me on my power to frame and reframe the experiences that determine how I feel on any given day. And to recognize that the old adage – home is where the heart is – is really true. The degree to which my heart is open is exclusively dependent on me and everything I see really is a matter of perspective. Makes me wonder what else I might be seeing that has an entirely new and empowering interpretation I have not yet landed on…