Tuesday, December 20, 2011
“This is great,” he thought as he roared down I-75. He pushed the pedal to the metal even harder. Then he looked in his rear view mirror and saw a highway patrol trooper behind him, blue lights flashing… siren blaring.
“I can get away from him with no problem,” thought the man, as he beared down on it some more, and flew down the road at over 100 MPH… 110… 120 MPH. Then he thought, “What am I doing… I’m too old for this kind of thing!”
He pulled over to the side of the road and waited for the trooper to catch up.
The trooper pulled in behind the Mercedes, and walked up to the man. “Sir,” he said, looking at his watch, “my shift ends in 30 minutes and today is Friday. If you can give me any reason why you were speeding, that I’ve never heard before, I’ll let you go.”
The man looked at the trooper and said, “Years ago my wife ran off with a Florida state trooper, and I thought you were bringing her back.”
The trooper replied, “Sir, have a nice day.”
So, are you laughing? LOL… At least smiling? Doesn’t it feel great?
I just spent the last two hours reading jokes and one liners and my face hurts from smiling. I am feeling really good right now. No wonder laughter is described as the best medicine. We all love to laugh… it changes our chemistry, it releases our tension, it brightens our day.
Personally, laughter reminds me not to take myself and life so seriously. I can be very focused, maybe even too intense, about what I am working on in any given day. This intensity coupled with a sense of urgency to “Get things done,” often leaves me forgetting to laugh. Too many days without laughing and we get cranky.
Kids laugh! We’ve all seen micro videos of babies laughing. It is a physical expression of pure joy. Do you know that feeling? Nothing works faster to bring your mind and body into balance. The healing powers of a belly laugh trigger healthy physical changes. It boosts our immune system, releases endorphins, decreases pain and relaxes our entire body. But most importantly, a good laugh connects us to others and shifts our mindset to feeling positive and optimistic.
I will never forget a unique night of unabashed laughter with my dear friend Lenny Zakim. Lenny was dying. About a month before his death, Lenny and I had planned an intimate evening of pure fun. What Lenny purposely created for the two of us was truly a memory… a “Perfect Moment” of laughter. At that point in his illness, Lenny was in constant excruciating pain from cancer. He had discovered that laughter mitigated his pain and left him feeling as good as he could possibly feel. Laughter for him, was a powerful antidote.
That night we didn’t just laugh… we howled… we laughed until tears streamed down our cheeks. It was contagious. The more we laughed… the more we let go… the more we got out of our heads… the sillier we became. It was a wild, magically, fun night.
During this unforgettable evening of laughter with my dear friend, I asked him if he was teaching me an important lesson about how to approach dying. He passionately responded… that he wanted me to see that laughter was all about living!
Laughing with others builds strong relationships, it heals emotional and physical pain, it re-charges ones personal batteries, it dissolves stress and shifts our perspective of life to see situations as less threatening. Laughter is truly one of the “Secrets of Life.” Find people who make you laugh and howl with utter joy!
Happy Holidays! Remember this is the season to share laughter. Please feel free to post any short (clean) jokes in the spirit of joy.
Friday, November 25, 2011
Have you ever had a creative idea that you thought might change your life, or even change the world? Were you intrinsically motivated? Did you have a plan? Were you prepared to overcome the inevitable resistance that accompanies the grandest of ideas? Probably not… because quite frankly, “Ideas” are cheap! It is all about execution, execution, execution.
Personally, I have too many ideas, and many don’t make it. Maybe my resources are limited, or my expectations are unrealistic. Sometimes it just boils down to insufficient skills, or even the lack of discipline and tenacity to follow through on making my big idea a reality.
After 60 years of exploring new ideas, I realize that successful execution is all about work. This is no big “Secret of Life”! We all have to work at something in life. We all find ourselves exerting energy out of a necessity to make or do something. Sometimes when we are “In the Zone”, work can be exciting, passionate…..even joyful. Other times, it’s about repetitive action… putting one foot in front of another, and getting the job done with discipline and accountability. In either situation, measureable movement towards a specific goal brings satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, even happiness.
In order for me to execute successfully on my “Big Ideas”… to live my dreams… to win, I have to overcome whatever resistance I am feeling. Winners overcome fear and defeat their personal resistance. Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us that we only dream about. Between the two, stands resistance. Have you ever quit a diet, procrastinated an important activity, put off learning, bailed out when you knew you shouldn’t? Then you know what resistance is. Resistance is toxic. It is the root of unhappiness, of mediocrity, of failure. Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. It is a repelling force. It comes from within and will give us any excuse not to execute… not to do our work. Resistance is insidious and it is by definition self-sabotage, especially when we use internal rationalizations to fuel our fear and inaction.
We can rationalize anything because there is that part of our mind that wants to believe what our rationalization tells us. It’s one thing to lie to ourselves, it’s another to believe it. Overcoming resistance is one of the “Secrets of Life”.
In order for me to achieve successfully, I have to overcome my internal resistance, focus my energies, and write a detailed plan of “How” to implement my new big idea. These first steps of the creative process are always the most exciting and stimulating for me. It is brand new! I love playing with my new shiny ideas. I find it totally engaging because I am enamored by the potential. Will it work? How big can it be? What resources do I need? How long will it take? What will I learn?
Overcoming resistance and driving to action does not automatically guarantee success. My track record is littered with failures. My mom used to say, “Son, you win one and lose eighty… but the one you win is always big!” I want to win as much as the next guy and maybe even more. But realistically I understand that I will lose some battles in order to win the war. Perseverance makes me stronger, drives personal accountability, and challenges me to push myself outside my comfort zone. Overcoming resistance is crucial for learning, vital to personal growth and an important “Secret of Life”.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The November 15th 2011 issue of Wine Spectator magazine… unequivocally the top North American publication on wine… featured a romantic journey through our personal Tuscan-inspired wine cellar. Susan and I love to entertain in this beautiful space. Imagine experiencing an evening of specially selected wines, accompanied by a dinner menu thoughtfully planned to elevate a tasting discovery. You are seated in a dining alcove encircled by hand painted frescos the colors of Tuscany, and completely surrounded by dozens of flickering candles. The air is filled with the sound of gentle music. Everyone is enjoying the moment, totally immersed in intimate story telling. It is magical, it is memorable, often resulting in the creation of a “Perfect Moment” for everyone present. It can best be described as being “In the Zone”. All senses are heightened… taste, sight, sound, touch, and scent… emotions stimulated by the subtleties of the wine, the warmth of friendly conversation… the soft glow of candles.
Back in January when I began cataloging “Secrets of Life” I listed wine as a potential “Secret”. Wine has many attributes. It makes us feel good, and has a history that spans thousands of years. Wine is an art form that expresses intense characteristics of scent, taste, color, and elicits passion from those who enjoy its culture. As I sat down today to write about wine, motivated by Wine Spectator’s awesome article on our cellar, I underwent a new realization.
Wine has become a fascinating and intriguing interest in my life. It is a source of joy and discovery. My taste is delighted by its wide but subtle spectrum, and challenges me to “Always Be Learning”, since wine encompasses immense knowledge, of which I am still so limited. Wine makes me think long term… what is the vintage? When is the wine peaking? How long should it age? What will I drink in five years, ten years, special occasions… and with whom? What stories do I have that accompany the wine… have we been to the vineyard, when did we first discover this wine, who gifted it, what was the occasion, the place… where did I buy it, why this wine, this grape, this region, this moment??
After all, is wine not the original “Fruit of the Vine”, with an ancient history that was instrumental in civilization’s evolution? It is most probable that man’s decision to cultivate grapes for wine making constituted an inflection point in history… a disruptive change in human culture. Man settled down to tend the vines instead of nomadically roaming from place to place. Wine has a civilizing nature. One had to wait years (four or five) before vines produced a harvestable crop. The vines needed care… pruning, staking, harvesting, tasting, crushing, storing awaiting the magic of fermentation. No wonder ancient civilizations thought of wine as sacred and used it for ritual and bringing communities together. The grape inexplicably transformed itself into the nectar of the Gods and in doing so, transformed mankind. Wine is truly a gift and an extraordinary “Secret of Life”.
Friday, October 7, 2011
A month since my last blog post… way too long! September 2011 was a month of extremes. It started on the shores of Truro in Cape Cod, walking secluded beaches, watching shooting stars, laughing with friends and re-charging my personal energy batteries. Have you ever noticed how crystal clear you feel surrounded by the vast beauty of nature? Our senses are heightened; we seem more alive, more connected to the universe, more mindful. We are engulfed by the grandeur of Mother Nature’s palette. The visual colors of our natural surroundings, the scent and even taste of the air, the touch of a breeze, all invigorating us with a pure, cleansing energy.
I needed that revitalizing weekend by the sea because I was in training… preparing to give and receive energy from 1,000 Hearts On Fire family and friends. Yes, I physically and mentally gear up for the most powerful, exciting, energizing four days of my year… Hearts On Fire University. Over the last 15 years, I reserve four days a week during the month of August for creative dreaming, physical training, over-preparation and energy building. This personal retreat, which mainly occurs outside on our garden terrace is a powerful discipline.
Held annually in hyper-energetic Las Vegas, the experience of Hearts On Fire University is impossible to capture in mere words. For those lucky people who attend, it is often a life changing experience of personal and professional growth… best described as four days of intense learning and falling in love with careers and businesses again, all while growing dreams and aspirations. “HOFU”, as it is affectionately called, is a wakeup call to overcome mediocrity and challenge ourselves to achieve a life of greatness. Sound amazing? I am truly understating the experience. It is a valuable gift of love and energy to all who attend.
Imagine 1,000 people totally pumped up and connected in both purpose and passion, motivated to action, excited to expand their individual aspirations… the outcome is energy creation on a nuclear scale. The results are palpable, the synergy is magical. Energy levels fuel creativity, action, success, and happiness. When our energy is high, positive things happen… when it is low, life is difficult. We feel most energized when we are connected… to nature, to ourselves, to a purpose….to something bigger.
Personal energy, one of the vital “Secrets of Life”, is a life force that flows like a mighty wave, fueling all that we are and everything we do. It fuels an essential awareness of being mindful. The more mindful we are, the better we can control and embrace it. This kind of personal energy on steroids is better known as passion…..generated by focusing on what we love… what we are most committed to.
Absorbing and transferring the love, the passion and positive energy at electrifying HOFU is immeasurable. This year it was even more extreme because Susan and I celebrated major life milestones with our extended family and friends… both of our 60th birthdays and our 35th wedding anniversary. The overpowering love and affection directed at us created a “perfect moment”… an intense life experience of being in “the zone”.
Fully charged and almost short circuited from four days of this mighty celebration of love and energy, we decided that there was only one thing we could do when “the music stopped”…
Directly from Vegas we flew to one of our favorite nature spots… the Bitteroot Valley in Montana. The very next day we were floating down the river fishing. What an extreme! One day Vegas and 1,000 highly charged people… the next day drifting down the majestic Bitteroot in rhythm with the cast of the fly rod, anticipating the excitement of a fish striking, listening to the sounds of the river and the birds, tasting the sweetness of the mountain air, being engulfed by the energy of old forests.
Energy is everything.
Energy is life.
Susan's "Perfect Moment" on her special birthday!
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
The most significant and beneficial transitions in my life have been the result of involuntary change. During these times of upheaval my internal conversations were always the same… “Why is this happening to me?”… “This is not what I planned!”… “This loss is too painful.” The anxiety and uncertainty I felt from these disruptive events in my life drained my energy and clouded my thinking. I felt out of control and frustratingly lost.
In recalling one of these significant events of forced change, I clearly remember being 21 years old and failing to get into medical school. My entire life until that rejection letter arrived was focused on becoming a doctor. I didn’t have a backup plan and now that I was graduating from college, I had no idea what my future had in store… I had no vision.
I was so fearful of this unanticipated disruption to my new start in life that I woke each morning in a cold sweat… asking myself “what am I going to do with the rest of my life?”
Amazingly, this unplanned occupation disaster turned out to be the very best thing that happened in my professional career. Instead of becoming a doctor… or worse a shrink, I created an exciting and remarkable journey as an entrepreneur. Life is extraordinary in this way. Almost everyone experiences moments of disruptive change. We lose jobs, break up with lovers, acquire an illness, experience the death of a loved one… and we are forced to adapt.
The most disruptive, painful changes in our lives often generate the most positive, joyful, satisfying results. This is a subtle and introspective “Secret of Life”. The earlier we learn this secret and apply it to our perception of life’s challenges… the quicker we learn to seize new opportunities. Personally, it took three painful, confidence shattering, faith testing, uncontrollable life changing events to learn this important lesson. In all three extremely troubled situations, the most significant, positive life changes resulted after a relatively short, but painful time period of adaptation. In retrospect, I left behind my strong attachment to the old and moved forward with effort and desire to embrace the opportunity of new.
The important mindful realization that change is constant and that we can with energy and effort, control our attitude toward change is certainly an integral component of this subtle “Secret of Life”. I am lucky that disruptive change and unmanageable forces in my life taught me that change drives growth, it motivates action, powers transformation, and causes new ways of thinking. Change is inevitable… change is constant… change is great!
I no longer just embrace change, I pursue it. I am addicted! I find it exhilarating, challenging, motivating. I often change things just for the sake of it. For me change is an adrenalin rush. My attraction to change has turned into a lifelong quest for something new… new experiences, new learning, new business models, new adventures.
Ease of change does not come naturally to some. It can be difficult for people who deny or resist… it can be uncomfortable and feel risky. Often our minds are conditioned to feel safe where we are, and frankly many people don’t even want to change.
But here we are… completely engulfed in a world that is accelerating change economically, technically, socially, politically, scientifically. If we don’t embrace it, if we don’t leverage it, if we stay the same, that sameness will lead to inertia or even worse, we become mediocre. And mediocrity is the black hole of energy. What do you want to be? Mediocre? Or do you aspire to greatness? So, get moving and change something important today!
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
This week I had the privilege of spending some quiet quality time with two extraordinarily successful people. They are about the same age, live in different worlds, are of opposite sex, grew up in dissimilar cultures, and from a glance seem very much unalike. But spend a little personal time, and you are immersed in their powerful emotion of passion. One individual is the President of the world’s largest publishing company; the other is the CEO of the world’s largest rough diamond distribution company. Immensely powerful, successful individuals who share a common “Secret of Life”… Passion.
Passion motivates. Passion drives action. Passion inspires new standards of excellence which produce outstanding results. These two apparently dissimilar individuals have risen to the pinnacle of their professional worlds by focusing their passion to make a positive difference in the world they touch. With vision they lead change; with intensity they innovate. Their true and personal desires fulfill their intrinsic needs and inspire people to achieve great results. Passion is a contagious emotion that excites activity, builds momentum, and is powerfully magical. And if you read my previous blog… passion can inexplicably place you “In the Zone”.
Okay, we all get it. Passion is a good thing! But how do I find my passion, how do I fall in love with my mission in life… with my “career”, my “family”, my “whatever”? I don’t have any simple formula for falling in love with life, but I can share with you some insights in my own transformation, from frustrated, stuck, unhappy diamond merchant, to enjoying 15 years of pure passion, building and leading the “Hearts On Fire” brand.
At 35 years old I remember clearly having an intimate conversation with a dear friend of mine. “Rosie, I just don’t feel passionate about anything”. “I feel stuck and unfulfilled”. “Is this what life is all about?”
This initial conversation, the verbalization that I recognized dissatisfaction with the state of my being, was a first step in my own passion awareness. I wanted to feel “more alive”. I wanted to experience excitement, enthusiasm for my life. I wanted most of all, to be engaged in a vision that created change that would lead to greatness. I wanted to feel all the molecules of my mind and body energized and driven by purpose to a new place. I wanted to wake up from my deep sleep of mediocrity, and look forward to each new day with a renewed, positive mindset. Not an easy task.
For me the first step toward restoring and building passion in my life was recognizing its absence. The second step was a quantum leap… my bank failed! Yes, probably the worse emotional experience of my professional life (Bank of New England, Jan 1991 failure) turned into the best motivating force of my career. I was thrown off the treadmill of life, because of an event outside of my control, forced to stop… to think about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. What skills would I need to build a new existence? How would I find my passion?
When in doubt, when in search… learn something new. I pushed myself outside my comfort zone at the ripe young age of 40 to re-invent myself. This required study to acquire new skills. (I went to seminars and the Harvard Business School for marketing, finance, accounting). It demanded letting go of habits that weighed me down; it forced me to face my fears and to embrace uncertainty. The more I learned, the more driven, the more passionate I became. New knowledge generated excitement and passion in my being for new and expanding experiences. The more I learned, the more I earned. I challenged all my beliefs and re-evaluated all my aspirations in life. My personal standards evolved as my being evolved. Instead of good results, I now aspire to greatness. No longer do I “try” at life… I “do”. The greater the aspirations, the more passionate I have grown. Sometimes my passion is expressed verbally, other times physically through body language, and often it is manifested as sheer will.
I am lucky, even blessed. Not only have I found my passion, it demonstrates itself every day in two wonderfully complimentary paths… my extraordinary marriage and the magic of the Hearts On Fire brand. My marriage is without question the very best thing that has happened to me. It provides balance, consistency, fun, and unconditional love in my life. Hearts On Fire has become a driving force, an intensity, an obsession to nurture and to share with the world. To me, Hearts On Fire is passion. It provides a vehicle of creative expression, an infrastructure to make a positive difference in the lives it touches. Today the magic and power of the Hearts On Fire diamond symbolizes and communicates the very best in personal values and human emotion.
Wow! Create a dream… add passion and unyielding determination and you have a movement that takes on a life of its own. It doesn’t get any better than that. Passion is and has always been a powerful “Secret of Life”.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Great athletes always aspire to be “In the Zone”. For them, it is the culmination of practice that suddenly appears effortless in a natural rhythm of movement. Talented musicians can experience a similar mental state. They merge, if not lose themselves into their music, intensely feeling the creation of sound, harmony, and connection to other musicians. Artists “In the Zone” become one with their medium and intuitively channel the flow of creativity in their expression and work.
Getting “In the Zone”, staying there as long as you can, and finding it over and over again (since we inevitably fall out of “The Zone”) may be one of the most challenging “Secrets of Life”. People who spend as little as 20% of their conscious lives “In the Zone” accomplish astonishingly more, are happier, healthier, generate positive energy and make a positive difference in the lives they touch. People who spend 50%, 60%, 70% or even 80% of their conscious lives “In the Zone” often change the worlds they live in. They are considered top in their fields of sports, education, religion, business, philanthropy, science and artistic creativity. They are the masters of their lives.
So….how do we get “In the Zone”? Frankly, I don’t really have an exact answer. I know I can’t force myself “In the Zone” or even predict when I will enter….it just happens. But I can speak to my state of mind when I am lucky enough to experience it. First, I am highly motivated and laser focused on the activity. Second, I am completely immersed and intrinsically motivated in the experience. For me, it helps to have a detailed goal that pushes me out of my comfort zone. I need a challenge that drives me with unyielding determination to accomplish the goal. If the task is too easy, I don’t get there... If the reward is only extrinsic, I don’t get there. If I don’t push my skills set and immerse myself in a new experience that absorbs me into the moment… I don’t get there. This is why my entire life I have been addicted to change and am in constant search of new, expanding life experiences. For me, being “In the Zone” is a lifelong passion.
Today, I am writing this blog on top of a mountain in Carmel, California… lost in time as the sun sets majestically over the Pacific in a breathtaking fire of reds, oranges and yellows. The air is perfumed with eucalyptus and jasmine, and the breeze is moist from the light fog coming in from the sea. I am in awe of the moment, surrounded and absorbed by the beauty of nature, yet challenged by how to clearly express this elusive “Secret of Life”….being “In the Zone”.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
How, after all these years can we love so deeply, can our romance feel so intensely? Why do I, when asked about my life, immediately and without hesitation say… “The best thing that has happened to me in my life is my marriage”? Romance is truly one of the more personal “Secrets of Life”.
I am not claiming a unique recipe that we can mix together creating a magical formula for romance…. Frankly, every day of our 35 year marriage has not been perfect. We have our ups and downs, successes and failures, excitement and boredom.
During these 35 years we have confronted our share of challenges, yet overcoming and understanding our bumps in the road has only made our romance stronger. We have grown much closer together instead of apart. Our relationship, our understanding, even our passion has evolved to new heights.
OK, enough already with all this mushy stuff! How did we end up more passionate, more in love than our beginnings? The first ingredient in the “Secret Recipe” of romance is "respect". We respect each other’s differences and in many ways honor them. I love Susan for who she is and Susan loves me for who I am. We are extraordinarily different. Susan loves the mornings and is in constant motion. I embrace the afternoons/evenings and can be still for hours. Susan excels at details; I adopt the big picture. Susan executes, I dream. Our differences make us stronger, even synergistic, because we respect and nurture them. We play to each other’s strengths and have learned to rely on compensating for each other’s weaknesses. Our romance is a true partnership.
Partners don’t ever compete. Ingredient #2 in the romance formula is “never compete with each other”. One person always loses. Losing is not romantic. Romance is all about embracing the moment in unison… not winning or losing. Create your life with your significant other that includes separate responsibilities for daily tasks, and don’t manage, compete or interfere in each other’s jobs without an invitation. Second guessing each other is not the definition of trust. Will your romantic partner do it differently than you? Most likely yes! So What!!!
Ingredient #3 and possibly the most powerful element in romance is “be thoughtful”. Being “thoughtful” is about recognition, acknowledgement, and surprise in a relationship. It is about making your partner feel unique, special, and good about themselves. It is stopping and celebrating perfect moments, accomplishments, and major milestones. The advanced art of romance is finding these “thoughtful” connections in everyday activities… in sharing together a smile, a touch… including each other in a spontaneous moment, and recognizing as a couple the joy and contentment in the ordinary and the magic of the extraordinary.
What would a recipe of romance be without a secret ingredient? The secret sauce, the spice that takes our romance to exceptional heights is “intimacy”. Intimacy is being the best of friends! It is a feeling of closeness, of total trust, fulfillment, and of complete acceptance of each other’s differences. It is a very safe place with no secrets, complete commitment, absolute truth, kindness, laughter, and openness to unselfishly sharing thoughts and feelings. It’s a place to have fun and fall in love over and over again. It is vitally important to keep the magic, the sparkle in romance by finding every opportunity to express your deepest emotion. A gentle, sweet kiss, a passionate hug, an unexpected “I love you”, a warm snuggle adds a dimension to our lives that brings completeness.
Romance is one of the most challenging “Secrets of Life” because it takes two souls, two loving and committed partners to achieve success. I know this blog is long but if you can hang in there for just one more suggestion… “schedule romance”!!! Yes, take turns scheduling a night, a weekend, a surprise moment… and don’t stand on ceremony or principal. If your partner misses a turn just schedule another, and another if necessary. It is truly a powerful “Secret of Life” to pursue, nurture, and value romance.
How do you create romance in your life? Is anybody out there that can share a romantic moment? Your personal comment will make us all feel connected.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
I believe in a natural imbalance of our efforts. Wow! Those nine words sound heady… even esoteric. But what I am really saying here is that a minimal amount of our efforts or inputs generate a disproportionate amount of our results or outputs… an important, powerful “Secret of Life” is the 80/20 principle.
The reason the 80/20 principle is so valuable is because it is counter-intuitive. We tend to believe that half of our efforts will generate half of our results… that life in general should be equally balanced… that our problems and opportunities are equally weighted… that all customers, products, sales revenue, inquiries, phone calls, emails, even days of the week have similar significance, have roughly the same value. This is simply not true… when we carefully analyze the true relationship between effort and results we clearly see how unbalanced life is.
So, why should we care? Whether we realize it or not, this “Secret of Life” affects our entire personal world. It applies to our work, our families, our friends, our happiness, even our spiritual life. I use it as a lens to focus my view of what is really happening around me. When we truly realize that 20% of our efforts produce 80% of our results it can change our lives… forever.
How? By choice, by substitution, by taking control over our time, action, and priorities, we can dramatically improve the quality, achievements, even happiness in our lives.
Many of us already apply the 80/20 principal to business. We know when we review the statistical data, 80% of our profits come from 20% of our products, 80% of our revenues are generated by 20% of our customers, 80% of our market awareness is a result of 20% of our marketing efforts. This means that most of what we do is far from efficient. We simply waste resources, time and energy… day in and day out.
Here is where the great opportunity, the powerful “Secret of Life” resides. If we discipline ourselves to simply stop doing the bottom 20% of our activity that produces the least effective results in our daily lives… and instead substitute that time, that energy, doing more of the most effective activity (top 20%) we can create a positive, leveraged, multiplying result with the same efforts. We can become super productive by just prioritizing and substituting what we do. Can you imagine the power of stopping the bottom 20% of what you do and focusing instead on the top 20% of your most effective, efficient, efforts?
I am not suggesting blowing your life up with radical change. What I am advocating is that we review our daily lives and identify the small minority of inputs or efforts that have a major, leveraged impact on our outputs/ results and do more of that. Press up whatever is working, and do less of what eats time and resources. When I am applying the 80/20 principle; I may choose not to answer every email or message, I don’t take on other people’s work when they try to give it to me. I avoid wasting time on low value activities by not letting low value activities control me. I prefer not to hang with people who drain my energy. The 80/20 principal drives us to create our own lives by substituting efforts, by setting priorities that will greatly improve the quality of our lives. Why just let life happen when we can consciously apply the 80/20 principal “Secret of Life” to strategically set us free?
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
For a guy that came from a family that didn’t value worrying… I am pretty good at it. My mom had no- and I repeat no worries in the world. Her personal philosophy of life was “Whatever bees, bees”. It was so frustrating at times when I couldn’t get my own mom to worry with me about my “Big” worries that I thought she might be absolutely clueless. My Dad wasn’t too far away on the worry scale. His coaching was “If I thought worrying would help, I would encourage you to do more, son”. “Life is round” he would say. “It goes up and down, and that’s just the way it is.”
So how did I become such an expert on worrying? For me there is good worrying and bad worrying. I guess being an overachiever with aspirations off the chart drives me to carefully analyze issues. I am always looking for the right answers to my questions and find myself constantly risk managing decisions. This is where good worrying enters. It motivates me. When I work harder to succeed, when I am truly aware of controlling my emotional worry, when I move forward with unyielding determination and focus… I successfully get out of my way and leave my comfort zone. Worrying drives me with a sense of urgency.
I lead by creating change; I achieve by positive action; I am fulfilled by having a sense of purpose.
So what’s the big “Secret of Life” here?
Write down what you are worrying about. List your worries large and small and track them for a year. My prediction is that none of those important worries from a year ago will be on your mind a year later. Whatever we are worrying about today is the most important thing in our life but where will these worries be a year from now? 99%of these worries will never happen.
We need confidence… better yet faith, that what we finish will turn out OK. My personal experience is more extreme. From the worst experiences in my life, from my deepest despair and worry, the very best results have ultimately prevailed. Repeatedly, life has turned out better than I have planned, better than I have worried.
What is unhealthy is to feel sorry for ourselves when our lives are turned upside down. Instead we need to confront our anxiety, fear, worry, and initiate action to meet the bumps in the road. In April of 2009, at one of the most challenging moments in my business career, I spoke intimately with two of my trusted advisors. I said to one, “K, I am worried about the business” and he replied, “Create Plan ‘B’”. Simple and direct. Stop worrying and take action.
My other advisor met me for lunch and when he recognized my sorry state of worry we proceeded to drink large quantities of wine. At the end of lunch “B” said to me, “This is just a giant, deep pothole in your journey... Look beyond this pothole in the road… You have to see that you will come out the other side.”
Exactly one year later (2010) all of those insurmountable worries were not on the list. Quiet the mind, take action, and have faith that whatever action we complete, whatever responsibility we fulfill will turn out better than we could have planned.
So, why worry?
Monday, May 9, 2011
My Dad was first and foremost a “Mensch”. He believed at his core that the most important value in life was to be a “Mensch”. I can best define a “Mensch” as a true, responsible human being with integrity. He taught me many lessons about how to deal with the ups and downs of life, about taking action “By the Numbers”, but the most important lesson he drilled into me… my Dad had been a master Sergeant in the US Army so he knew how to drill you… was “Show Me Don’t Tell Me”. He would stand tall, cup his hands and thrust them out at me and say, “Son, show me, don’t tell me”. It was a powerful teaching of accountability and perseverance… but more importantly it was his way of teaching me integrity.
“Show Me Don’t Tell Me” is “Walk the Talk”. And as a dear friend from Hong Kong described it… “Integrity of Tongue”. In life we must do what we say we are going to do. Our words need to take on a life of their own thru committed action. Who are we if we don’t honor our own voice with integrity… with honesty in carrying out our promises, our intentions?
If we analyze “Show Me Don’t Tell Me”… we see the depth and richness of this basic teaching. Several connecting lessons and life forces that flow through this simple, laser focused concept… awareness, accountability, and perseverance.
Awareness is being mindful before we speak. Thoughtfulness in the moment will bring clarity to our words, to our promised intentions.
Accountability drives positive action. If we say we are going to do something, than we must hold ourselves accountable to our words… responsible for our own voice. The more we discipline ourselves to be accountable for what comes out of our mouths… the more success, contentment, fulfillment, and integrity we create.
But awareness and accountability of what we say are only as effective as our willingness to persevere. If we can’t “Walk the Talk” or better yet survive with dignity and faith at what life throws at us, then we are not truly willing to hang in there to make it happen. Either we persevere or we betray our own voice.
My wise 92 year old Dad spent over four years, yes four years, on the front lines in Europe during WWII fighting daily for his life and the many men whose lives he was accountable for. As a fighting group they needed to be aware… Zig when they were required to zig and zag when the needed to zag. As a team they were totally accountable and bonded to each other for survival… and if they didn’t have the strength and commitment to persevere they put each other’s lives in jeopardy.
No wonder my Dad, my “Boss”, the Sarge, drilled into me the importance of “Show Me Don’t Tell Me”. It was core to his existence; it was his personal experienced “Secret of Life” to pass on to me, his son.
Dad at 92- dancing in the kitchen with his favorite Daughter-In-Law, Susan
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
When I grow fearful it generally centers around uncertainty, yet let’s not confuse this with change. Somehow my personal nature loves change. I have almost an addiction to constant change … to the next new experience. My fears are more rooted in faith, in belief. When I don’t truly believe, I don’t fully commit. Without an unyielding commitment to action … I get in my own way. I screw it up for myself because I hold back, I doubt myself, act inconsistently, indulge in self pity, lower my personal standards, and even give off nervous or bad vibes. So how do I break the cycle of the “fear funk”?
Fear is usually about loss or potential loss. It’s most basic underlying primal emotion is the fear of not surviving.
The first action I embrace is acknowledging and examining my fear. It is an awareness thing. The more conscious I am, the more I peel it back, the easier it is to determine my worst case scenario. As soon as I clearly understand my worst case scenario and believe that no matter what, I will survive … that my life is not threatened … my rational thinking begins to defeat my irrational thoughts. I am now free to fully focus my energy on overcoming my fears.
My next “secret” is to hold myself accountable to taking control over my own life. I need a plan of action. I have to be proactive instead of reactive. For me to break out of the “fear funk” I need to write a detailed plan and commit with unyielding determination. As I take action and feel like I am doing what I need to be doing moment by moment, I begin to rebuild my faith, my belief that the future will be what I envision.
I have learned over the past few decades that the more mindful I am; the more time I spend in the present moment, the faster I overcome my “fear funk”. How do I break the paralysis of fear and participate in the moment?
Just breathe! That’s right … deep breathing like an opera singer, from deep in the bottom of my diaphragm. When this focused breathing is accompanied by a conscious awareness of following each breath I become centered in the moment. Mindful breathing changes my physiology. Changing my physiology changes my psychology or mood. I am grateful to my yoga instructor who during the depths of the global financial crisis focused me on practicing my breathing to calm and balance myself. Check it out … in my opinion learning to breathe is a more effective and less expensive “Secret of Life” to combat fear than alcohol, drugs or therapy.
Fear is integral to life but if we turn it on its side it can be motivating force, an opportunity to commit our positive energy to personal growth and belief in ourselves.
How do you overcome your fears?
Friday, April 1, 2011
Rarely, and sometimes never, we get lucky and find a true mentor. I define mentoring as a natural, personal relationship with a more experienced, wiser individual that transfers knowledge informally over a period of time. This wise man/woman called “Mentor” has no personal agenda other than to promote the development of their protégé or mentee. When this student/teacher relationship happens naturally, it is magic…It is a gift from the heavens.
Most people never experience true mentoring. It is one of the more elusive “Secrets of Life”. The ideal mentor/mentee relationship begins subtly, almost accidentally, and over time gradually ends that way as well. It is difficult to search out but is almost sure never to happen if you are not open and looking to learn from someone who has knowledge you desire. My simplest explanation is “It is a chemistry-energy thing”. You find yourself attracted to an individual you admire.
In most mentor/mentee relationships it is an older individual sharing with a younger protégé. But in my personal journey I have had two mentors that were a few years younger than me, three mentors that were much older and one special friendship that started out as me mentoring someone 15 years younger and ended upside down with my mentee becoming my mentor. All of these wonderful learning experiences have provided me quantum leaps of personal growth. When the stars align, a true mentor provides short cuts to life’s success thru knowledge transfer.
One of my late mentors, Lenny Zakim, was also one of my hero’s. He taught me to always be over-prepared, to be laser focused on a clear vision, to create and demand the highest standards of achievement, but most important of all… to make a positive difference in the lives I touch. The most amazing dimension about this special hero, mentor, and friendship was how much fun we had together. As demanding as Lenny was about everything he did and expected from everyone around him, he was equally as passionate about every friendship and mission that encompassed his life.
Mentoring is a pure, no strings attached gift to the receiver and a privileged opportunity for the giver. Life’s path is powerfully altered by the kindness and wisdom of mentoring. Look… but not too forcibly, and you may find your mentor or possibly your mentee.
Does anyone wish to share their experience with mentoring?
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Guanxi is a fascinating “Secret of Life”. It is a Chinese concept of the power of relationships. Guanxi can best be defined as personalized networks of influence. It is the art of networking on a higher level, described in the Chinese world as a social currency based on traditional values of loyalty, accountability and obligation. Guanxi is your personal power of deep relationships that inform, educate and assist with access and connections. Why Guanxi?
“No man (woman) is an island entire of itself”. Life is about people, friends, family, community….it is about relationships. We need each other to survive, to thrive. The greater our network of interested, committed friends and family…the more powerful our Guanxi. In order to nurture our Guanxi we need to be “thoughtful”. We must take every opportunity to be generous of heart, to teach, give, support, love, do a good deed for someone without any immediate reciprocal expectation. This will build our personal Guanxi. I have often described this concept as “The Favor Bank”. Just keep depositing favors in the favor bank; it makes your life richer. Who knows, maybe someday when you really need help with something important, you may be able to make a withdrawal.
One of my most admired mentors, Bobby Sager, is an expert on Guanxi. He has spent his entire life networking globally with the world’s most evolved, talented, and powerful people. His Guanxi includes spiritual leaders such as the Dali Lama and Nelson Mandela, political leaders like Bill Clinton and several presidents and royal family members of African and Middle Eastern countries; athletes like Bill Russell and Bobby Orr; and even talented Rock Stars including Sting and Lady Gaga. He runs around the globe like it’s a little village, being thoughtful, doing good deeds, building powerful Guanxi. Bobby is totally focused on leveraging his network, his Guanxi to make this world a better place to live, learn, and grow.
In my life, I am blessed with the Guanxi of a community called Hearts On Fire. We are thousands strong, live in over 34 countries and share the same vision of making a positive difference in the lives we touch. Hearts On Fire is a global diamond jewelry brand that provides “Ultimate Recognition” for those perfect moments in people’s lives… what a wonderful mission. All of us at Hearts On Fire share in and contribute to the love, happiness, and celebration of Hearts On Fire owners. Many of these passionate, happy people become part of our extended Guanxi, adding to the power of our community. Guanxi is family…Guanxi is networks and social currency…Guanxi is a powerful “Secret of Life”.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Learning involves discovery, change, and action. When we leave our comfort zone and move into our learning zone our lives become richer. We open ourselves to expanded opportunities, explore new ideas, and fuel our passion for life. The more we learn the more we earn, the more we learn the more we win, the more we learn the more we grow.
Learning means making mistakes, it means continuous practice. Learning requires doing things that we may not have done before, things we probably won’t be very good at the first time around. But if we only do what we already know how to do, then we won’t learn anything new.
In order to fully embrace learning we absolutely need to push our personal boundaries and get out of our comfort zone. Today I am high in the mountains of Utah enjoying a sunny beautiful day in a heavenly ski resort called Deer Valley… learning how to improve my snow skiing skills. It can be scary on top of a mountain. Not only does skiing require practice and pushing myself out of my comfort zone… I fall down.
In life if we don’t fall down we are not pushing ourselves, exploring unknown territory, overcoming our fears and learning something valuable. On the challenging ski slopes, I fall down and pick myself up… In dealing with the challenges and difficulties of life… I fall down and pick myself up. If I am too cautious, too careful, too afraid of something new and difficult, some situation I have not mastered before….I don’t really learn anything new.
We all need to forgive ourselves for our mistakes, for falling down, because without mistakes and practice we aren’t doing enough to learn. Learning demands action. It requires actually doing something. Learning means tackling the hard work of making something happen. In order to master a skill, become an Olympic star; achieve expert recognition in your field…. Life necessitates much more than grand dreams and inspired aspirations. According to the world renowned author on success, Malcolm Gladwell, it requires 10,000 hours of practice. 10,000 hours of repetitive action, of hard work is a long time to achieve greatness. That is why we need to start now and… always be learning.
Please share with me your thoughts, emotions, and questions about The Secrets of Life. Is anybody out there?
Thursday, March 3, 2011
We are what we think about. If we believe in ourselves, believe in what we do, believe in our personal vision of life with unyielding determination…..we succeed. Winners believe!
Our mindset, our attitude determines what we believe and how strongly we believe it. We can’t truly fool our internal belief system by attempting to convince ourselves of something we know intuitively isn’t right. Negotiating with ourselves is always a losing proposition. We need to get out of our own way, overcome our fears, and silence the negative noise between our ears. The more positive our mindset, the more passionate we are about our lives….the happier we are in the moment. The fascinating and rewarding result of a positive mindset is that it builds on itself. Positive energy, positive vibes, positive ideas, attract positive outcomes and yield outstanding results. It is our perspective of life, the lens that we view everything with that determines whether we see obstacles or opportunities; whether we ask ourselves “why” or “why not”; whether we decide “can” or “can not”. Our mindset makes all the difference in our perception of who we are, where we are going, and if we will be successful and happy along the way.
When I get stuck in a “funk” and can’t get out of my own way, I move my body. Changing my physiology changes my psychology. And it works! Motion will positively affect emotion. At Hearts On Fire Company we combine both motion and sound to positively influence our mindset. We ring bells! Yes, when a successful sale is achieved, we celebrate by ringing bells and cheering. It’s fun! Imagine the benefits and positive power of ringing bells and cheering in a working atmosphere and how it fuels a passionate culture.
Changing our mindset is unique to each of us. The key is to recognize what works and use it. What works for you? Can you share with us one of your secrets of building and maintaining a positive attitude and mindset?
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Most of us are too busy surviving….reacting to our daily challenges, stressing on the realities of paying our bills, dealing with the demand of our jobs, raising the kids, taking care of our health, keeping up with the treadmill of life…. To actually prioritize precious time for our dreams.
The questions are obvious:
“Am I being proactive or reactive in my journey?”
“Is life happening to me or am I creating my way in the world”
“If I don’t know where I am going, how am I going to get there?”
“Do I have a GPS for my life and have I fine tuned the coordinates?”
I know that without a GPS, without a map or charts I can’t navigate thru the complexities of a journey. It doesn’t matter whether I am driving, hiking, sailing, or flying…. If I don’t know my destination, how do I expect to arrive there? Wherever “there” is? I will just end up wherever the journey takes me.
One of “The Secrets of Life” is to turn your personal GPS on and to constantly adjust the coordinates. The exciting thing is you never actually get “there”. It is all about the journey, being in the moment, finding yourself in the “zone” of being in the right place at the perfect time to maximize life’s experiences.
Sounds good. But how do I activate my personal GPS? And most importantly how do I fine tune the coordinates of the trip? For me it starts with visualization…. A detailed picture in my mind of where I want to go even though I understand that the closer I get to my destination, to my vision, the more likely it will change. This visualization includes my aspirations for achievement, the depth and intimacy of my relationships with family, friends, and God. The wellness of my body and mind, my passion for creativity and inspiration, and most importantly making a positive difference in the lives that I touch. The more focused I am on my vision, the greater the clarity; the easier it is to fine tune my GPS.
Planning the journey is essential. We all need goals and aspirations to motivate and measure our progress. If you want to be “You” when you grow up than you must set standards of greatness. Mediocre doesn’t make it. Mediocrity produces poor results. Setting the personal GPS to standards of greatness requires flexibility and management. As we move forward in life our environment is constantly changing. New opportunities appear at different cross roads, passion increases with discovery of our deeper selves and the positive emotional feedback of happiness. Planning and goal setting provides us direction but we must be open and adaptable to the changes in our world and more importantly, the changes in our own likes and dislikes.
Personally, I am addicted to change even though I am a planner by nature. This means that I am often playing with the dials of my personal GPS. The results have been beyond my wildest dreams. I have had many ups and downs, obstacles, and wrong turns along the way but for me the journey has been way more exciting and passionate than I could ever plan. When I am mindful of the moment, aware of my environment, and positive of mindset, life unfolds better than I can dream it up. It is magic and I feel like I have the best job, the best marriage, the best friends and family of anyone I know. And most importantly, “I want to be me when I grow up!”
Thursday, February 17, 2011
But in order to start we need to stop. Stopping means being quiet enough to truly get in touch with ourselves. Have you ever just stared? Yes, just stared at a lake, mountains, the moon, the sunset? Of course you have. How does it make you feel? Relaxed? Rejuvenated? Thoughtful? Does staring help quiet some of the noise we have in our minds? You know, the loud conversations we carry on with ourselves, often about fears, about worries, about negative negotiations we are constantly having with ourselves. It can be very noisy and negative between our ears.
How do I gain control over my own thoughts, my own mindset? Stopping is a discipline, a gift to oneself for re-charging the personal batteries and tuning the internal channels. Stopping or quieting the mind so we can get in touch with our intuition, with our creative and visionary channels is truly a Secret of Life.
Some people practice meditation, sitting quietly focused on a mantra or internal light, emptying the mind of noise and distraction. Meditation increases one’s ability to focus and to live in the moment. Very powerful. Some of the most accomplished people I know do some form of meditation to quiet and strengthen the mind. It is like any practice of exercise you choose to embrace… The more you practice the better you get, the stronger you become. Now I am not suggesting you all sit down cross legged, light candles, and begin to fight with your mind over who has control. What I am saying is the power of stopping is directly related to getting in touch with your intuitive/creative mind.
Personally, I like taking walks. When I make no conscious attempt to get into the quiet zone... If I just enjoy the natural rhythm of a brisk walk…somewhere around twenty minutes into my walk I find myself in a creative space. Ideas flourish, and I see things with a sharper focus. I feel ideas, I have moments of insight, I can occasionally have epiphanies. It is almost as if my intuition “feels” these moments of clarity. Isn’t it ironic that rhythmic repetitive movement such as walking, running, dancing can calm the mind and help us stop. It can bring us to a place, a zone in our mind that brings clarity, stimulates creativity, and places us in the moment. Stopping the internal noise, quieting the mind is powerful. It doesn’t matter what your discipline is….meditation, staring, walking running, breathing…
Just do it! Prioritize your personal “Stopping” activity… Consider it like exercise, eating or sleeping. Make it daily, perfect it with practice. I use the power of stopping for re-charging, connecting with my intuitive/creative brain and taking back control of my mind. And when I am mindful, when I remember to focus on “The Secret of Stopping”, breathing, being in the moment… my life becomes proactive instead of reactive.
If you struggle with “Stopping”, with quieting and controlling the mind, it is completely normal. We all have loud noise in our heads and it is very difficult to clearly hear our intuition with all the distractions of these unruly, internal conversations. If you want to shut these loud internalizations down quickly…go away. Yes, go as far away to a quiet spot as time and money can afford you. For some it may mean a simple walk in the park, around a lake, on the beach. My preference is old forests. I’m able to feel the energy, oxygen, and majesty of old trees. The further away I go the quieter my mind becomes. All those day to day worries, important details, crises become less significant even trivial. Today, as I finish this entry my mind is quiet. It is my 60th birthday. The sun is rising over our tent deep in the Moroccan desert. The air is crisp and sweet, the light radiates intense shades of reds and pinks, and the sky scintillates a silky blue. There is no movement, and the moment is without sound. I have stopped…very powerful.