Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Getting Out of Your Own Way

Ever wonder why we undermine ourselves with the negative assumption that we can’t accomplish something…or why we negotiate against ourselves and allow paralyzing fear to keep us from living our dreams? Why…because we’re stuck! We hold ourselves back from creating a successful future and deny ourselves achieving our true potential. Simply put… “We get in our own way”!

“Getting in our own way” begins with lack of belief and lack of faith in our ability to accomplish our dreams. We think too much… we strategize, we analyze… we doubt and then we hesitate. Instead of fully embracing a plan of action, we allow those negative conversations in our head to create excuses. So, what should we do to overcome our resistance?? ……Stop thinking so much and start acting! Action…repetitive focused action, builds positive momentum towards achieving measureable, satisfying goals.

We accomplish nothing until we act. It doesn’t have to be a perfect plan in order to passionately commit. We can always fix it, tweak it, and refine it along the way. Most important is that once we commit, there should be no room for doubt. There is only room for “unyielding determination”… for perseverance… for dogged intensity. There can be no stopping, no succumbing to resistance… we just need to get out of our own way and believe.

Anything and everything is possible. The spectacular 2012 Summer Olympics in London are happening as I write this blog. And what do we see? Passionate, super human effort smashing world records by young, intense, over prepared athletes. The awe inspiring performances of these highly skilled athletes is proof…complete confirmation, that focused action towards a goal executed with passion, unyielding faith and determination, creates powerful, measureable results. The Olympic athletes have learned to overcome their fears, train incessantly smart and “get out of their own way”. They are all winners.

Winners believe. Winners believe in themselves, they believe in what they passionately commit themselves to. They work harder, achieve more and are totally driven toward their goals. Winners take responsibility for their actions and don’t assess blame. They accept setbacks and failures along the way only to pick themselves up, keep on going, and not look back. Olympians are pinnacle role models for overcoming resistance through intense repetitive action, tenacious resolve, positive attitude and passionate purpose. These 17 days of the Olympic Games are testament to “best in world” athletes who so profoundly understand the value of “getting out of your own way” as one of the insightful “Secrets of Life”.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dare to Dream

Last Friday, I had the privilege of attending Northeastern University’s Graduation Ceremony at the Boston Garden. The arena was filled with over 4,000 energized graduating students and 20,000+ guests. The atmosphere was one of joy and anticipation. Students were both proud and relieved to have completed their undergrad studies and receive their coveted diploma. Yet their joy and excitement in reaching this important milestone was mixed with anxious anticipation of their unknown future. It was up front and immediate….it was right before their eyes. Who would they be when they grow up? What did life have in store for each of them?

In those electrified few hours of the graduation ceremony, the love and pride of family and friends was palpable... you could feel the positive energy in the air. These graduates were ready and eager to dream. It could be best described as…… a “Perfect Moment”.

I had never been to a big University graduation before (I forgot to show up at my own), and found the experience profoundly inspiring. All of the honored speakers encouraged the students to create their futures…to never stop learning; to venture into areas unknown and not be afraid. They challenged all of us to dream, to create our own vision… to aspire to greatness.

Aspiring to greatness is an essential “Secret of Life”. Our inspirations…our dreams, are as important as the air we breathe….they are vital to life. Aspirations drive us in a direction to become better than ourselves. When we aspire and fully commit to a goal or a vision, we achieve. Our aspirations are clearly our goals. And our goals are simply our dreams with measurable results connected to a timeline. A dream without a measurable action plan and definitive deadline is just a “wish”. And the difference between a dream and a wish is everything in determining quality of life.

Why bother aspiring to mere mediocrity? Why wish our way through life? Why settle for less? In order to create our futures….to move forward in life, we need to expand, grow, and extend beyond our boundaries. We need to focus our personal will to become better, to become more! We need to aspire to greatness.

Where I work, at the Hearts On Fire Brand, we called them “BHAGs” (big, hairy, audacious goals). All of us at Hearts On Fire aspire to be “Best in World” at what we do. Aspiring to be “Best” creates passion for our vision and keeps us motivated towards action. We hold ourselves and our teammates accountable to measurable goals… accountable to our BHAGs.

At Hearts On Fire, when we are in the “Zone”, it’s a beautiful thing. I often describe it like dancing in a complex and demanding ballet. With a single vision of perfect execution, the dancers (team) dance toward the crescendo… the finish….the deadline. The dance… the activity….the project, creates art and accomplishment. It generates a magical momentum of movement.

Our aspirations and our dreams in many ways determine who we are and how we encounter life. Deciding to re-set or better yet, re-create our aspirations, sets us in motion to positively influence and change the quality of our lives. So, dare to dream! Dream dreams that no one before has dared to imagine. Commit with unyielding determination to a dream bigger than what you already know or know how to do, and you will surely create a life of adventure and achievement.

   Northeastern University Commencement Ceremony at The Boston Garden, May 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Power of Bruce Springsteen (Music Transforms)

Every time I see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band I am transported to another world. It doesn’t matter what my mindset is… stressed or ready to party… Bruce and the Band generate musical energy that restores my soul. For three emotional hours I am lost in a spiritual experience… a mini vacation from daily life. I dance the entire time….I sing with total abandonment….. my heart is clearly on fire! I have purposely jumped into a deep pool of pure joy.

In these perfect moments of musical bliss I am connected communally with almost 20,000 fans. Together we create mind boggling energy, orchestrated by our indefatigable minister of rock and roll… Bruuuuce! We are all sharing a spiritual moment… a perfect moment of harmonious FUN. All 20,000 of us are collectively bonding. We are experiencing one of the most dramatic effects of Bruce and the E Street Band… the music’s power to induce an almost trance-like state. Bruce (music) has the power to transport us into the “Zone”.

Every culture throughout man’s recorded and unrecorded history has generated music-induced trance-like states. It is often ecstatic singing, dancing, rhythmic rocking, and the powerful beating of drums that breeds excitement and connectiveness in the participating community….it’s primal. Humanity has been singing, dancing, and praying together for a hundred thousand years. It is a basic, intrinsic “Secret of Life” similar to a deep meditation that can alter our individual and collective states of consciousness.

Today, just like the last hundred thousand years, the communal celebration of a Bruce Springsteen concert has the musical power to bond people together… unify an audience into one giant living, breathing, singing organism. Now, that’s what I call synergy!
When a group of individuals are connected with purpose and passion through the power of music, the music transports us… it elevates and changes our emotions… it resonates and restores memories.

Springsteen’s legendary song “Thunder Road” is so vividly imprinted on my emotional brain that it literally brings me to tears. It is the deeply ingrained memory of being a pall bearer at my dear friend, Lenny Zakim’s funeral 12 years ago. That highly charged emotional day, six close friends carried Lenny out of the Temple sanctuary to Bruce singing “Thunder Road”. It was powerful…..and a moment in time that is forever etched in my soul. The minute I hear “Thunder Road", it triggers that deeply rooted memory to the extent that I actually feel like I’m uniting with my friend in the present moment……reaching across the great divide between the earthly and spiritual worlds, feeling my lost, departed friend… now, how powerful is that?!? When Bruce sings “Thunder Road” live with 20,000 voices joining in, I am transformed by emotion and transported to another dimension. The power of music is truly a primal and most valued “Secret of Life”.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Showing Up

If you’re a fan of old Woody Allen movies, you’ve most likely heard one of his more famous lines…. that “80% of success in life is showing up!” As simple as that sounds, just think where we would all be if we didn’t bother to… show up?! The reality is that nothing actually happens until we commit to physically and mentally taking action. The first and most important thing we do in accomplishing anything in life is to just show up. The second most important thing is to actually do something. When we take action, we set ourselves in motion and everything changes… we make stuff happen, and in the best of circumstances, we can even create the magic of momentum.

There is enormous value in a mindset that prioritizes showing up as an important “Secret of Life”. Because in life, it’s impossible to always predict what will happen, who we might meet along the way….or how an experience might affect our future. My own most life-changing example…..showing up on Memorial Day weekend 1973 in Birmingham, Alabama to visit my best college buddy... If I hadn’t traveled that weekend I would never have met my sweetheart Susan, my soul mate and life partner. I can’t imagine how different my life would have been if I had decided to stay home and spend the weekend on the couch. Surely there are many stories like this out there. It sounds so simple…so painfully obvious, but how often do we opt out of showing up because of fear of the unknown or just pure laziness. When we put ourselves in new and/or sometimes scary places, we learn… we expand… we grow out of our comfort zones, and good stuff happens. When we show up, we set ourselves up to meet interesting people, add exciting experiences to our knowledge base, gain insight, and build a diversified view of our world.

For me, I value showing up as an adventure. Susan and I are blessed to travel the globe….see beautiful places and best of all, meet extraordinary people who are often doing amazing things.
Showing up in strange places, being open to spontaneity, or finding ourselves in unpredictable environments can actually be exhilarating. Those unexpected, intense experiences are often our most “Perfect Moments” in life.

Life can be challenging, and not always as simple as just showing up. One of the “Secrets of Life” is how we show up. For me, I maintain a personal discipline of being over-prepared and doing my utmost to stay true to doing what I say I’m going to do. As much as I am addicted to spontaneity, I’m not comfortable with “winging it”…..for me it’s about anticipation and preparedness.

Mastering the art of showing up requires thoughtfulness; it’s about remembering the little things, being there when needed, celebrating life’s changes and mindfully participating in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary. It is a “Secret of Life” that requires us to have integrity of commitment, which normally means that we need to show up often and repeatedly. In order to be that good friend, loose that extra weight, master that difficult challenge, or honor our promises we have to just show up and do the work! Where would we be if we didn’t show up?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Unyielding Determination

It‘s amazing how time becomes distorted as we age… strangely, it actually appears to accelerate! It truly feels like I just sat down to write my first blog, “New Beginnings", and in a blink of an eye, it is 20 blogs and exactly one year later. To my delight, we are back… perched on my favorite mountain in St. Barth’s, devouring the inspiring magic of this spectacular Caribbean island. I feel very “zone” like here, grateful to be in the moment, appreciative of nature’s display of beauty (sunsets, moon rises, foliage, beaches) and enjoying re-charging my creative energy batteries.

Today, I am torn between writing about a silly topic of why “belly rubs” are a “Secret of Life” or a more reflective subject… “Unyielding Determination”. Since I am currently reading the biography of Steve Jobs and learning about his life and his “Unyielding Determination”, I thought I would use his amazing story to illustrate the power of “determination” in creating one’s life journey.

I have always believed in the power of free will… that if we are strong enough, focused enough, motivated, and intensely persistent towards a clear and defined vision, that we can accomplish anything. It may take us 10,000 hours, 150 times, or even a multitude of failures to achieve our dream, but what is critically vital is our passion… our unyielding commitment to fulfilling our goal.

Most people just stop. They quit for many reasons. Primarily, it is a lack of deep belief in their ability to achieve what seems impossible: they think it’s too hard… or they are afraid.

For me, it is not about belief, fear, or commitment. My own personal demons are frustration, impatience and timing. Almost everything takes more time and effort than planned. I get emotional and edgy when things don’t move fast enough. I am driven and I can be extraordinarily intense. Yet staying true to my “Unyielding Determination” and beliefs, life has unfolded much better than I could have ever envisioned. Even when I’m frustrated and feeling like I am pushing an elephant uphill, I still feel extraordinarily lucky.

One of the “Secrets” I’ve learned in achieving goals is that “we expand or contract into the amount of time we have to accomplish a task” (that’s a Glennism!) In the Jobs biography the closest people around him refer to Steve’s “Reality Distortion Field”. Jobs was determined… so unyieldingly determined, to create product perfection from his personal vision, that he incessantly generated an intensity that would not accept anything less than his view of brilliance. This overwhelming intensity created a “Reality Distortion Field” that engulfed the people around him. Jobs’ personal intensity and unyielding belief in achieving product perfection drove the people he worked with to successfully create what they had previously considered impossible. Jobs’ intense energy inspired, bullied, charmed, and cajoled his team to create greatness… to accomplish what many of them did not always believe they had within them. “Unyielding Determination” drove creativity, it squeezed the best out of people’s skills, and it inspired a powerful intrinsic desire to change the world. When your passion motivates you every day to change the world, you become a nuclear reactor of positive change.

Most people lead lives of mediocrity. We get in our own way with why we can’t do something. Maybe we’re too afraid to commit or don’t believe deeply in what we do professionally or personally. Even if we are lucky enough to discover our passion, we often fail to devote all our energy, everything we have and more every day, to achieving our dream! The difference between fully committing to “Unyielding Determination” and making a serious effort towards our goal is like day and night… it’s the difference between being awake or asleep. It is always that last 2% of intense effort that separate excellent results from outstanding, game-changing, and revolutionary accomplishments.

We are not all born to be rebels, pirates, or mavericks and I am not advocating that any of my readers venture outside of their own nature and become someone they are not. What I do deeply believe, is that by combining “Unyielding Determination”, intense passionate energy, and creative curiosity, we are all fully capable of achieving the impossible… even greatness.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Life is Better with Movement

A New Year… when many of us vow to shed those few extra pounds we so typically and enthusiastically add on during the holiday season. It’s the time of year we push ourselves to get more motivated, get in better shape, and get moving. Movement is key… it’s one of the most important things we can do to maintain a positive mindset and healthy lifestyle.

An object at rest tends to stay at rest; and something that ceases to move rapidly deteriorates. You don’t need me to tell you that movement, or better yet exercise, is as important to our well being as eating and breathing. We are constantly bombarded with weight loss ads, exercise videos, and offers of gym memberships. In our hearts we know that regular physical exercise improves overall conditioning. It strengthens our bodies, energizes our minds, releases oxygen to our tissues and organs, builds density in our bones, and most important for me… elevates my mood.

I discovered in my early 30’s that I suffered from seasonal affected disorder (SAD). My mood changes radically with the seasons. As the long New England winters lingered on I would find myself in a type of “funk”. The best cure for what ailed me is exercise and sunshine. Exercise is an elixir for life. It’s good for everything… our hearts, our minds, our stamina, our sense of self, even our sleep.

Personally, I need to do some combination of stretching, walking and strength training almost every day. If I don’t move my body it stiffens up, my back starts to ache, my mood sours… and I get cranky! Fortunately I have enjoyed the discipline of a weekly weight lifting routine for over 33 years. Strength training is an ingrained physical habit that has resulted in pretty decent muscle tone for this 60 year old guy. What is relatively new to my routine is yoga. Three years ago I engaged a yoga instructor to teach me how to breathe. Yes… I intuitively knew that deep and mindful breathing would help me reduce the stress and anxiety that was dominating my life during the global financial crisis. What I didn’t anticipate was how powerfully positive the yoga stretching poses would have on my overall well being. I am now more flexible, my balance has improved markedly, my posture is straighter, and my core is stronger. My body and my mind feel good. Simply put… “Life is better with movement.” Movement is an obvious “Secret of Life”.

What’s important is to find one’s own personal passion for movement. It can take many different forms… walking, swimming, biking, gardening, skiing, yoga, tennis, weight training, competitive sports, dancing. I love moving my body to music. Music motivates me to dance, to shake my body and stretch… even jump up and down.

Being married to a woman who is in perpetual motion is an intense motivator. My sweetheart Susan is like a “whirling dervish”. She jumps out of bed in the morning, embraces the day, and keeps on moving. It is amazing to watch. This constant motion is her nature, but it sure keeps her in fantastic physical condition as a result. Susan is a true inspiration for the positive effects of movement.

Make it an important priority to find your personal movement passion and even better, a friend or partner that inspires you to consistently practice this valuable “Secret of Life.” Your mindset will change, your body will energize, and life will become happier and healthier.

This is more than just a New Year’s resolution; it’s an attitude towards life. So, have fun and keep on movin’!