What is it that you are longing to create in the coming year? And what do you need to let go of in order to allow it to fully take root? Are you willing to entertain the thought that it may come in a form that is unfamiliar to you? Are you clearing the way for success?
Every year, we are encouraged to set New Year’s resolutions. 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 are able to inspire others to do as well.
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 in order to create the space for something new to come in. We are constantly evolving as human beings – and as communities of 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, 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 total 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 these definitions. They filter the experiences we allow ourselves to have and compel us to define the form that our deepest longings should take. In order to be happy, we reason – we must get that promotion, achieve this or that particular 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 auto pilot. Some of this may bring satisfaction, and some may bring a growing source of 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 up 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 of 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. If you do not delete old emails 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. 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 up 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.
The above article is an excerpt from my book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming a Real Leader. The Pinocchio Principle is a roadmap to help you integrate your head with your heart, utilize your intuition, challenge your limits and move out of your comfort zone to unearth your greatest work while inspiring others to do the same.
Implications for Real Leaders
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To find out more about how you can unleash this talent, energy and potential in your own organization (starting with yourself), sign up below to receive your copy of The Real Leader Revolution Manifesto as soon as it is released.
My last post, A Story About Signs, Synchronicities and Meaningful Coincidences, featured a video about a series of seemingly random events that gave me needed encouragement while I was writing my book, The Pinocchio Principle. If you didn’t catch the video, you can watch it below or click here for the last post. I know it seems somewhat unlikely that these things actually happened, but they did. And after talking with many others about their own experiences of this sort, I have come to believe that signs and synchronicities such as these are not all that uncommon.
Many of us simply dismiss them as random and insignificant coincidences, which is completely understandable. It’s not all that different than having bought a car only to finally notice other cars on the road just like yours. They were always there, but you didn’t really notice them before. Is that a meaningful coincidence? Well, it depends on how you look at it. Those cars hold meaning for you after you’ve bought yours because now you identify with them. They are no longer just other cars on the road; they are cars that are identical to the one that you most likely went through a very long process to procure for yourself. And after buying that same model, you now have an affinity for it. It jumps out at you because it feels good.
So when other things repeatedly catch our attention, they probably hold some kind of meaning for us as well. We just may not realize what that meaning is. Like my experience with finding Pinocchio memorabilia, what repeatedly catches your attention could be an object. But it could also be a person, or a phrase. It might be an image, or a song or even a movie that recurs. What is most important is not so much the objects or experiences but rather what we associate with them and how these things make us feel.
Often we are so busy or preoccupied that we don’t slow down long enough to realize what these things are trying to tell us. But when we do, we are often surprised and delighted to discover that they give credence to our deepest longings, most inspiring visions and grandest dreams — you know, the ones that beckon to us and attempt to break through all our doubt and mental chatter to show us a whole new field of possibility. Every time I see a sign like that, I like to think of it as something or someone gently encouraging me to go stop questioning my ability and instead begin to question and move beyond my doubts.
In the next few days, pay attention to what jumps out at you. See if there are recurring themes. Slow down long enough to inquire into what these experiences are trying to tell you. Move into it. Feel it. Even if you don’t immediately know the answer, the act of paying attention and asking the question will get you closer to finding it. And it could be the beginning of something really big and wonderful.
Here’s that video, in case you missed it: (if you don’t see it below, click here)
In my next post, I’ll share another series of signs, synchronicities and meaningful coincidences I had that gave me the courage to finally take action toward my lifelong dream of having my own business. If you’d like to read more on deciphering signs, synchronicities and meaningful coincidences, I’ve written a whole chapter called Navigational Tools in my new book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be, now available on Amazon. You can find out more at http://www.PinocchioPrinciple.com.
Ever had “one of those days?” This week’s blog post, A Story About a Bad Day, is about one that I had recently and the valuable lesson I gained through the experience. Below is a written version of what I said in the video.
I was driving to a client appointment while drinking a cup of coffee. Stopping at a light, I wedged the coffee cup into my lap and proceeded to fix my lipstick. The light turned, I stepped on the gas, and suddenly felt the sting of hot coffee, which had spilled everywhere. As I was getting onto the freeway I realized that I was about to go into a meeting looking like I had just peed my pants. So I rolled all the windows down and turned the heat on full blast. When I got to my destination, I slowly and carefully slinked to my seat carrying one bag in front of me and another behind me.
I tried to console myself with the thought that things could only improve from here. Unfortunately, they did not. I came home to meet a refrigerator repair man to find that it would cost more to fix my fridge than buy a new one. Shortly after that I went to lower some blinds which came crashing down when I touched them. I then realized that I had to get my daughter to a group photo where she was supposed to be wearing a t-shirt with a horse shoe transfer ironed onto it. Not knowing which direction the transfer was supposed to go, I quickly pulled it out of the package, and slapped it on the t-shirt to find later that she was the only little girl with the horse shoe pointing down instead of up. AND I had made a permanent horseshoe indentation on the built-in cabinet I just had painted because I was in too much of a hurry to put something underneath it. On my way back, I cut the corner coming into my driveway too short and scraped my car against the retaining wall.
I decided I’d call to see if I could get the blinds fixed. The repair woman asked me to carefully and gently un-wedge them from the wall. At that point I told her I didn’t think I should be doing anything like that today and proceeded to tell her about my day. She started laughing and quickly apologized, commenting that it was good to know other people had days like that. Then I started laughing. And it felt good. We joked that maybe I shouldn’t leave the house — just order pizza and call it a day.
But after I got off the phone I realized that I didn’t need to be afraid to leave the house. In one way or another I had gotten myself into a frame of mind that was affecting my whole day. Whether I was conscious of it or not, I believe I was drawing more experiences to myself that confirmed my belief that it was going to be a crappy day, which is exactly what I was having. Once I lightened up, I was able to let go of that and things got a lot better. And I learned something valuable.
My experience demonstrates the power our thoughts have over the way we see and experience things in the world, which directly influences the actions we take as well as the results that come of them. I’ve written more about this dynamic in my new book The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be. It is now available on Amazon. For more information or to download an excerpt, go to http://www.PinocchioPrinciple.com.
Last weekend, my family and I went to Disneyland, where we spent two days playing at what has become known as “The Happiest Place on Earth”. And there really is something about that place that allows all your troubles to melt away while the kid in you comes alive. It is easy to be in the moment while you’re there – totally present, completely immersed in the experience, and sharing joy with everyone around you – even people you’ve never met.
It got me to thinking. What is it about Disneyland that is so transformational, and how can we create a similar experience wherever we are?
Now, you might be saying, “Come on, it’s Disneyland! And people are on vacation when they’re there. How can you not be happy in a place where there is beauty everywhere you look and where the whole point is to let go and have fun? And when you are on vacation you’re not pulled in a million different directions and under the same pressure and stress you are every other day – especially at work.”
Yeah, I get that. But the experiences we have come down to what we allow ourselves to feel and what we are thinking about and believing when we are having them. So, perhaps it is conceivable that we can learn to deliberately respond to situations in ways that would lead us to draw out the same emotion and energy – no matter where we are.
I can’t help but think about the people who were (and still are) responsible for creating and running Disneyland. Their workdays consist of being a part of and contributing to something that evokes the very best in all the millions of people that come into contact with it. And it seems that they wouldn’t be able to do that if they weren’t bringing the very best of who they are to the experience as well – despite the pressure and tension they surely feel along the way.
I believe part of the wonder and magic we experience when we are at Disneyland is the same wonder and magic that the place was infused with from it’s very beginning — starting with the man called Walt Disney and equally shared by every human being he partnered with from the beginning to bring his incredible vision to life and keep making it better and better. Walt Disney dared to dream and dream big. He worked with people who shared his passion to build on this dream by adding their own unique talent, energy and imagination. They were inspired by the possibility of being a part of something bigger than themselves.
When was the last time you felt inspired in your work? When was the last time you had passion for your career? What is it that allows you to feel a sense of wonder and contribution to something bigger?
If you have lost touch with that, do yourself and everyone around you a favor and take some time to reconnect with it. Each one of us has something deep inside that we are uniquely qualified and put on this earth to create or do. When we are young, the energy of our dreams propels us along our path —sometimes blindly, but it gets us off our duffs and into action. We experience hardships along the way, and will undoubtedly fail again and again. Life will throw us curve balls and we may find ourselves feeling beaten down and doing what we can to just get by, running from one crisis to another and sometimes going in circles. At some point, we may check out and take an easier path – one that allows us to go numb and somewhat unconscious. It may work for awhile, but over time we begin to feel the misery that comes along with abandoning our dreams and letting our passion take the back seat.
What would it take for you to get excited about what you are doing right now? What is the bigger why of the work you do every day? Who does it serve, and how? If you can’t answer that question, do some digging. When you can connect those dots to a bigger picture, you may find that what you thought was insignificant is really actually quite meaningful and a vital piece of a larger puzzle you are meant to help assemble. As you recognize your part and the value you provide, perhaps you’ll be inspired to bring a little more of who you are to what you do by playing more fully, being more present, and connecting more deeply with those who rely on you.
Your passion is like a hidden well with unlimited reserves – in the act of tapping it, you will replenish it in such a way that it multiplies. And as you unleash it in your work, you will draw out something extraordinary in every human being that comes into contact with it – just like Walt Disney did (and still does).
Sometimes when we are honest with ourselves, we recognize the ways in which we have boarded up that well and consciously or unconsciously do whatever we can to keep it locked. Something may have happened that led us to doubt our chances of success, or fear the outcome of expressing our greatest ideas or challenging the status quo. Perhaps we’ve experienced something that led us to harden ourselves out of resentment at a turn of events that was painful – maybe a reorganization, restructuring or layoff. We may have come to the conclusion that the best way to stay safe was to lay low, going through the motions and getting through the day until we could go home and really live.
Such a reaction may yield dividends in the short term. We may feel as though we have beaten a system that seemed to be beating us. Or perhaps we can stay under the radar long enough to avoid what we believe will be more pain. But in the end we are only cheating ourselves and others.
Walt Disney experienced his share of hardship. After his failed attempt to be hired as an artist for his local paper, he took an apprenticeship at an Art Studio and ended up getting laid off. He started two different companies, neither of which were profitable. He lived in his office because he couldn’t afford rent and hardly had enough money to eat. Before he was able to complete his “Alice’s Wonderland” film, he declared bankruptcy. Imagine how many millions of people would have missed out on his unique genius if he gave into his frustration and fear and played small instead.
It seems that we are at a kind of crossroads where the tension is mounting. The deviations and quick fixes that used to work for us are no longer satisfying. The pain that comes from denying our greatest dreams and visions is beginning to intensify and more and more people are asking how they can create lives of meaning and significance. Some of the people I talk to believe they need to leave their jobs to do what they really want to do. Others see opportunities where they can make a bigger difference but just don’t know how to start and fear that taking action could be put themselves at risk somehow.
I strongly believe that we can all make a difference right where we are — no matter where we are or who we are — and that we have everything within ourselves that we need to succeed.
I have been so fascinated with the question of how people can tap their inner reserves to reconnect with their passion, wisdom, creativity and unique talent (and how I can do this for myself as well), that I wrote a book about it. It is called The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be and it is now available on Amazon. For more information or to download an excerpt, go to http://www.PinocchioPrinciple.com.
* Source: www.disneydreamer.com.
This video is about what led me to write The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be. If you cannot see it on the page, click here to view it. Below I have expanded on the key messages. I hope you enjoy it!
What I really love about coaching is that it is not about telling people what to do or giving them answers. The beauty and the magic that happens with coaching is that the client gets connected with something inside of them that has all the answers they need. It is their inner wisdom – their creativity, ingenuity and resilience. It is also the seed that contains within it their unique talent, style, energy and passion. And it is amazing to see it come out.
I seek to do this for myself. I want to instill it in my kids. If I could give anything to the world, it would be to show people how to connect to the core of their true selves and to have the courage to bring that to whatever they are doing. I spend a lot of time reflecting on what I can do to get clearer on the process – and what I might be able to write about that could tell the story. One day when I was journaling, Pinocchio popped into my writing.
Pinocchio is a universal story – he is an archetype that mirrors so much of what is happening in our lives right now. Most people think of him as the guy whose nose grew when he lied. But Pinocchio is a story of a puppet that longed to be real. He wanted to transcend that stiff, hollow wooden frame and do things in the world that he couldn’t do as a puppet.
So many of us are at a place where we are ready to go beyond the boundaries we have previously set for ourselves – to dig deeper, dream bigger, and fly higher. We long to shed the strings that keep us tied to illusions that are simply not true – about what we need to do or be to enjoy success, and the limits that we think will keep us from achieving it. Like Pinocchio, so many of us long to be REAL – who we really are beyond the constraints that keep us bound.
What I love about Pinocchio is that he messed up. He told lies and then he recognized the consequences. He landed himself in a cage. He succumbed to temptation. He had misstep after misstep. And yet what the Blue Fairy told him was that to become REAL, he would need to prove himself brave, truthful and unselfish. And I think the same thing is true for all of us. Our journeys will be full of obstacles as well – and there will be times of frustration, anxiety and stress. The experiences we have will activate the courage we have within to be true to ourselves and others and of service in the world, just as Pinocchio’s experiences did for him.
That’s why I wrote The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be. It’s really a road map to help each of us take whatever experience we are having right now and utilize it as a window into ourselves that allows us to tap into whatever we need to rise above any situation that we find ourselves in. My hope is that it will help you navigate the perils and possibilities of your own personal odyssey so that you can unearth your greatness and bring it into the world in such a way that it blesses your own life as well as that of others. As you do this for yourself, you will inspire others to do the same – which I believe is the mark of a true leader – regardless of your vocation, title or role.
The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be will be released on 1/11/11 and is now available for preorder at www.PinocchioPrinciple.com. I will also be working 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 every other Thursday from 11:30am to 1:00pm from 1/13/11 through 6/16/11. For more information or to register, go to www.DianeBolden.com/AIAL.html. The cost is $900 ($75 a session) and payment plans are available.
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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!