Friday, October 31, 2008

Bringing Focus Back to Purpose

I was sifting through my inbox last night and this morning and thought "How many of these things that I do are bringing me closer to my Life goals?"  As we all know, every choice in life brings us closer to or further away from our goals.  The decision to not make a choice between various options is in itself a choice and unless you are incredibly lucky, not a choice that consistently carries you closer to your ultimate purpose.

We move closer to our Life goals and Life purpose when we can visualize what we "want to be when we grow up" and take specific actions towards that vision.  Many of you who know me personally have seen the vision board I carry in my pocket, a constant reminder of my ultimate destination while I am here on Earth and my ultimate destination when my end-of-days has arrived.

However, as I sorted through the list of "asks" on my desk, all of which are quite noble and important to the requestor, I realized that most of them are not in congruence with my purpose.

When I accept too many of these, whether personal or professional requests, my efforts become diluted.  Since many are not in alignment with my passion, as a human being it is possible I won't put my best efforts into them or I may procrastinate heavily regarding them.  This is because they are not something I feel strongly about or my brain might just be overloaded with too many of them.

Many of these requests will have no impact on my life at all and in fact, will have little impact on the life of the requestor either.  Many times, people will lob stuff in your direction because they want you to solve it - the belief that "their want" should become "your desire".  However, when you push back on them to do it themselves, you find they don't want to do it either or it is not important enough for them to get at it right away.  How important was it at all if that is the case?

I was recently asked to help a client whose company was dying and discovered that my passion for success far outstripped their own.  They were in fact, indifferent to the success of their organization, which is why they asked me to save it.  When I came to that realization, I turned them down, pointing out that if they didn't care, why should I?  They didn't understand the question, saying I should want to help them because we were friends.  Imagine where our lives would be if we catered to that line every time!

While it feels noble to want to help everyone who comes to you looking for help, eventually by helping everyone except yourself, you burn out, awash in exhaustion, frustration and maybe even financial trouble while the people who loaded you up in the first place have moved on to find others to help them.

I'm not suggesting that you help no one or that you be cold and ruthless about who you help.  I'm suggesting that you be more discerning and discriminating in how much time you have for your own personal objectives and how much you have to give to others.  Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has some powerful tools to help you in this area.

You are most empowered to help people in the best way possible when you are strong mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally.  To get into and stay in that state takes a commitment to yourself as well as to others.

Sometimes saying no to someone is the best thing that could happen to them as it will either force them to find someone else who could put more passion in it than you (potentially producing a better result) or it forces them to justify their ask, possibly causing them to realize it wasn't that important in the first place.  Maybe after they have justified their ask, you may see an opportunity to align your purpose with their ask.  Everyone wins if that is the case.

If you give all of your time away, pretty soon you will be so spent that you will not offer any value to yourself or others.

Don't let this happen to you.  Keep your purpose squarely in front of you at all times.  Know when you have time to help great causes and great people and know when it is time to focus on your own purpose.

When the time for laser-life focus is upon you, don't be afraid to say no.  It may be the most empowering choice you made that day - for everybody!

As Paul wrote in Galatians 6:9-10 (my emphasis added)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people...

So, give when you can.  I teach everyone to give before getting.  However, sometimes you can't give at the moment and that is ok.  Don't let people convince you to feel guilty for such guilt may propel you to serve others incessantly until you fail completely.

Live your life - not theirs.  When you live your life, you can help others be successful (however you gauge success).  The reverse is not necessarily true or as fulfilling.

Now if you will excuse me, I've got to tell a bunch of people that I'm too busy right now.

In service and servanthood.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What's Holding You Back?

When I was in elementary school, I was often taught a variation of this expression:

"If you want to be something in life, work hard and study hard".

I heard it from teachers, parents and others who felt that it was positive motivation.

Some of you heard variations such as:

"If you want to be like uncle Joe, your father, your mother, the President of the United States, etc, etc."

The brain, being the wonderful miracle that it is, sees one interesting element - the word "if".  The brain subconsciously jumps to an interesting conclusion - that being "something" is a future event and not a present reality and therefore, perhaps I am nothing at the moment (since I should be aspiring to be something in the future and not enjoying what I am right now).

Meanwhile, many children are cautioned to be careful of catastrophic results when experiencing life.  For example:

"Be careful playing in the street so that you are not run over and killed by a car".

"Don't talk to a stranger because they will kidnap you and you will never be returned to mommy or daddy".

"Don't play on the pier or you will fall over and drown".

"Don't go jumping on your bike - I don't need to be taking you to the hospital with a broken neck".

"Don't spend your money all at once because there's no more where that came from - do you think money grows on trees?"

Or the great favorite from this time of year:

"Don't eat apples that you get during Halloween.  Everyone knows that they have razor blades and straight pins in them that will kill you.  Somebody two blocks over died that way last year."

I'm not saying that sound advice, especially things like caution when speaking to strangers, is a bad thing.  However, what many of these "rules" suggest is that if you try anything at all, the worst of all outcomes will befall you and that the world is a smorgasbord of life crippling / life ending traps.

So think about what this programming produces in your life.  Imagine a belief system similar to the following.

First of all, I am nothing.  I won't bother trying to be something because I won't achieve it.  The sooner I accept this, the less angst I will have in my life.

Secondly, if I dare believe that I am something, whatever I try will result in cataclysmic failure anyway so I will avoid the failure by not trying in the first place.  There's nothing more embarrassing in life than being a failure at something or disappointing others through my failure.

If I see someone else trying to make something out of their life, I will do what I can to save them from failure and embarrassment by convincing them to cease immediately, thereby saving them from inevitable disappointment. 

If I cannot stop them from striking out on their own, I will do what I can to discredit them in front of others, pointing out that clearly I am smarter because I wouldn't embark upon inevitable failure as they have.  When their failure comes, I will cherish it ("I tried to tell you but you wouldn't listen").

Where does this leave you?

I am nothing and failure will always result when I go out of my comfort zone or strive for something important to me.


I am safest when I live my life as others wish me to live it, even if it produces immense frustration and disappointment for me.  However, when people ask me if I am content, I will always say yes.

Sounds dreadful, doesn't it?  Most of us will deny that we experience this or live like this.

However, how similar does your childhood programming from many years ago seem to what you feel today?

"I won't start that new business - 4 out of 5 businesses fail anyway."

"It's a stupid idea - nobody will be interested."

"Am I really smart enough to do this - probably not."

"Will others be disappointed or disapproving of me if I try this?"

"I don't have enough money to accomplish this, so why bother trying since I will run out of money before I get successful and will end up bankrupt anyway?"

"I cannot succeed because I experienced _______ (insert life crippling event here) and everyone knows that if you experience ______, you cannot be successful."

"Somebody else is probably already doing it and doing it better, so why bother?"

"I don't want to be embarrassed when I fail (not if I fail but when I fail)."

No wonder we live in a world where people are afraid to engage their purpose and passion.  Most of us have been programmed to avoid it and while avoiding it, we watch with envy as other people escape this trap and seek to manifest their destiny.  As they do it, it reinforces our behavior that we are incapable of accomplishing the same results since they must be smarter, richer, more good looking, have more time on their hands, not be tied down by life commitments, not be tied down by debts, have a more supportive life partner, etc.

What a sad place that puts most of us - yearning to be what we want to be and what we are capable of and yet feeling unfulfilled because we can't seem to get to that which we believe to be our reason for being.

Most of us are living a lie.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been speaking to a number of people about a theme that is a particular favorite of mine:

"If you had unlimited time, energy and money, what would you be doing right now?"

Most people pick a career or vocation other than that which they are doing at that moment.  When I challenge them as to why they are not living this life now, they provide a rich diversity of reasons .... or should I say excuses.

There are some legitimate reasons but they aren't as plentiful as people want to believe.  The truth is that many reasons boil down to fear or the inability of people to believe that they are capable of manifesting their purpose (as noted in the original programing of the brain I described earlier), a variation of fear.

Last year, I blogged about living a life of passion (  In that article, I discussed the notion of overcoming the crippling beliefs that hold you back, to seek out that which you believe you are called to be on this beautiful planet and to instill a sense of urgency you need to embark upon a no-compromise plan towards fulfilling that destiny. 

You know what you don't like and what you feel that you can't do in life and can explain it with great passion.  How about finding what you want and need to do in your life, fuel it with the same passion level and observe the results that you achieve?

In other words, apply a cranial defibrillator (a defibrillator to your head) and get engaged in your life.  It's your life - not someone else's.  Love and embrace the miracle that you are and do something that leaves a legacy.

As you progress towards greater realities, take the time to share this concept with others and do what you can to empower them as well. 

Someone is waiting for your help right now.   Embrace your destiny.  You are too great a miracle to do anything other than fulfill your purpose.

Yours in service and servanthood.



PS   I read something the other day by Christian D. Larson, in a piece known as "Promise Yourself" or alternately, "The Optimist's Creed".

I'd like to share it with you.

Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature you meet.

To give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud word, but in great deeds.

To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wisdom from a child

I was mired in deep thinking the other night, working in my office as I navigated my way through a number of challenging assignments.

My middle child (all of four years old) was scribbling on a piece of paper, pretending to write as children often do in the early stages of their acquisition of writing skills.

As I stared at my notes spread out on my desk, he brought the piece of paper over to me and told me it was his newest book.

As I looked at the scribbles, I asked him what the title of his book was.

He replied "Everything is Love".

How could one disagree?

Yours in service and servanthood.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Confrontation - Not Always Bad

We spend a good bit of our life avoiding confrontation for a number of reasons, including but not limited to the following:

  • because we don't like confrontation (it makes us feel uncomfortable for reasons we can't put our finger on)
  • because we are too busy (even if the confrontation is in an area that is in alignment with our personal purpose and passion)
  • because we are afraid of downstream repercussions on us or people important to us
  • because we have selfish needs that will be compromised if we challenge what we or others  perceive to be wrong
  • because we let something go too long and having done so, to challenge it now may cause some people to say "so why do you care now?" or the more incriminating "You knew about this and did nothing?"
  • because we are told that challenging something is just not allowed (for reasons that no one can explain or justify)
  • because we or someone close to us may be guilty of something that a confrontation may expose
  • because someone has intimidated us into believing that if we confront that which we believe to be a problem, then a failure will result that is our fault for challenging the status quo ("it was all quiet until you showed up")
  • because we feel that we are not as competent as someone else and will lose the confrontation, so why waste the time
  • because the person to be challenged is known to be a bully and you are afraid to voice your concern, fearing the repercussions
  • because we assume someone else will rise up and defend a position that we are passionate about (and we get frustrated, wondering when the white knight will arrive)
  • because we live a life of indifference to fixing that which needs to be fixed.

The truth is that sometimes confrontation, when approached correctly, produces purity and security within an organization, process or relationship.  The reasons include the following:

  • Challenge  provides clarification on how an organization, process or relationship is run and should be run
  • Challenge provides opportunity to change – to improve how organizations, processes or relationships execute
  • Challenge provides opportunity for enhanced relationship building, internally and externally
  • Challenge purifies organizations, processes or relationships by encouraging appropriate "house cleaning"
  • Challenge produces respect in others through appropriate airing / sharing of concerns and realignment of mutual understanding
  • Challenge provides security through increased transparency and enhanced execution.

So, confrontation is not bad as long as:

  • The information is factual and presented in a non-emotional way
  • The problem is tackled and not the people associated with the problem
  • The process produces a better service, product offering or relationship as a result of the process
  • Transparency and accountability are enhanced
  • Everyone on all sides recognize that personal agendas should be put aside, since both sides are possibly in violent agreement on more of the opponent's position then they realize
  • Common goals for the greater good are established early and collaboration is used to work towards those common goals.

So, before avoiding a confrontation for one of the reasons listed above, ask yourself this question:

Is the reason for the confrontation one that involves doing the right thing for:

  • those who have been wronged and fear standing up for themselves (for any reason)
  • those who have no voice and have been wronged
  • the purpose of correcting a wrong that people are not aware of? 

If any of the above is true, if fixing it is important for reasons that you are in congruence with and if you are not serving a selfish personal agenda, then don't run from confrontation. 

Take a stand.  Do what most people won't do today so that you can do what most people can't do tomorrow.

Proper challenge can correct issues and enhance future execution if done fairly, factually and appropriately and if we recognize that each person involved is doing they best they can with the talents, strengths and knowledge that they have been blessed with.

Yours in service and servanthood.


PS 55,000 children died yesterday due to malnutrition.  55,000 more will die today for the same reason and another 55,000 will die tomorrow.  They need someone to take a stand for them if you happen to be looking for a great cause!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Living a Life of Enthusiasm

I have always been known as someone who lives a life of enthusiasm and have never been accused of not having enough passion for personal and professional projects.  People who live life enthusiastically engage others with their passion and vision and provide an excitement that is infectious, encouraging people to believe that they matter and can make a difference.

I came across this quote the other day and it resonated with me on a deep level.  The quote exemplifies my personal belief that we should fill every day with passion, purpose and enthusiasm.

"Every memorable act in the history of the world is a triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it because it gives any challenge or any occupation, no matter how frightening or difficult, a new meaning. Without enthusiasm you are doomed to a life of mediocrity but with it you can accomplish miracles."

Og Mandino - 1923-1996, Speaker and Author of The Greatest Salesman in the World

Many people I interact with every day are not living a life of enthusiasm.  They have flatlined in either their personal or professional life and are in fact, living a life of indifference.

This indifference manifests in a number of ways, including but not limited to:

  • Lack of desire for professional success, not doing what it takes to manifest such success.
  • Not investing in personal relationships, including with children and life partners and not doing what it takes to make the most of every moment with them.
  • Not taking a chance on following their heart to seek the purpose of their life and going for it. 
  • Being consumed by fear of what someone else will think of something they say, do, or believe.
  • Preferring to control and direct something (and limiting their result) rather than collaborating and promoting the same project and manifesting the greatest result possible.
  • Refusing to be open minded to thoughts and ideas of others because their ego doesn't permit them to entertain the thoughts of other people.
  • Cutting corners when trying to understand people instead of investing into why they do what they do, thereby potentially destroying relationships instead of building them.
  • Deliberating constantly but never acting on the same thought.

I am fascinated, intrigued and saddened by the number of people who want something to manifest in their life, yet they live a life of indifference or lack of enthusiasm about the phenomenal opportunities all around them.

We can name people and organizations that exhibit one or more of these concepts every day.  Would someone else include us on this list?

People who exhibit these attributes are proving Einstein's definition of insanity perfectly - to do the same thing over and over and yet expect a different result.

Are you living a life of passion and enthusiasm or are you living a life of indifference? 

Do you believe in a life of unlimited possibilities or do you think it would be nice to have such a life but it is impossible to manifest?

Are you focused on collaborating for success or would you rather keep it to your self, with a good chance that you will manifest much less or nothing at all? 

Do you associate with other people who think of endless possibilities or do you prefer to be the king of the heap of a bunch of people who also believe they are incapable of manifesting purpose and passion.

Are you able to submerge ego so that life lessons have room to enter your mind and help you grow?

When people are with you, do they tell you that you fill them with excitement and enthusiasm for life?

Think about living a life filled with gratitude for being alive, for being able to make a difference to others and for collaborating for success (however you measure it).

Isn't it more fun to be passionate about everything than being indifferent?  Passion and enthusiasm is infectious and all things being equal, will push you to heights that others can only dream of.  It will attract others of equal passion, providing tremendous opportunities for collaboration.

How much passion do you have for this incredible process called Life?  Take it to a new level and witness the incredible difference it makes to your life and the lives of those around you.

In service and servanthood.