Thursday, February 24, 2011

Who do you want to be when you grow up?

One of life’s most important, yet often unanswered questions is “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” Have you stopped and thought about this question? Are you living your dreams? Is your life filled with richness of family and friends, passion for work, creativity in leisure and contentment in your spirituality?

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

The Power of Stopping

Before we begin our journey into the Secrets of Life…We need to stop. Yes Stop. Anyone reading this blog under the age of 40 is probably doing several things right now. Multi-tasking… watching some type of video, texting, , tweeting, working, shopping… who knows what? We are overwhelmed by choices, options, stimuli and all of these activities add to our lives… we network, we learn, we grow.

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.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Beginnings

I have always been excited about new beginnings. It is the positive anticipation of starting something new, exploring the unknown, taking the first step of a journey that energizes me. This feeling of exhilaration is probably why I spent my professional life as an entrepreneur and my personal life as an avid traveler. Experiencing something or someplace I have not explored before puts me in the immediate moment and opens me up to learning about myself, about the world. For me, the writing of this Blog is such a moment.
I have often dreamt…..well not exactly in Blog form…of writing a book, a reflection of my incredible life experiences, a synthesis of years of learning, a road map of my adventures. Now that I have actually taken the first step to share “The Secrets of Life”…I wonder…will anyone be interested in what I have to say? More importantly, will readers learn anything important from my words? I hope so and I hope to provide some insights that you can apply to all aspects of life.
Why embark on this journey now? For me, the timing is perfect. At this very moment I am starting out on yet another new beginning….It is late afternoon, in mid January 2011, I am perched in a lovely villa on St. Barth’s overlooking the intense colors of the Caribbean sea…feeling the warm delicious gentle breezes… The moment feels so wonderfully perfect. It is truly a new beginning… The beginning of my 60th year of being. It is almost impossible for my mind to comprehend that I am turning 60!
My 60 years have been filled with love, rich in learning, and loaded with adventure. I have great health, a dedicated group of friends, teammates, and business family that span the world… constantly enriching my life with their support, love and knowledge. And the most important blessing of all, the best thing that ever happened to me…A 35 year marriage to my beloved Susan.
I have been so lucky and blessed that for many years my Mom nicknamed me “Mr. Lucky”. My personal reflection of life inspired me to describe my journey in crystal clear terms… “I want to be ME when I grow up”.
I am not saying that life is or has ever been perfect. Life is not perfect; in fact it isn’t always that great. I have had many stressful, low energy, disappointing periods in my life. I am not a master of life. I have a tendency to fall out of the sought after “Zone” for long periods of time (much more discussion about the Zone in future Blogs) but I have always been able to find my way back home. And I guess that road map home is why the “Secrets of Life” are so valuable. Many of the “Secrets” we will discuss are pure common sense, while others will bring new perspective and insight to life’s journey. One thing is certain… actively practicing these “Secrets” with focus and prioritization will build personal power. You will find yourself gaining control over your life, envisioning and creating your future, even experiencing epiphanies!
And who knows, maybe you too will be saying “I want to be me when I grow up”.
The next entry will be written in the desert of too. It will be titled “The power of stopping”. I am looking forward to your comments and friendship.