To Know The Truth

Don’t deny your world. Your world does not need saving, it needs more of your loving care.  It’s begging you to pay more attention to the details.

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Pay attention.

Accept this moment for what it is.

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Suffering is just the refusal to accept what is.

Healing is really just letting yourself feel your most suppressed feelings and recognizing that these feelings are fleeting.

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Each day we must go to war and fight the good fight. Vivere est Militare. To live is to fight. Fighting for our dreams with fortitude. Fighting against impulses with discipline. Fighting to be the person I want to be with courage.

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Life is a battlefield.

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How to Get One Percent Better Every Day

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.  -Viktor Frankl “Man’s Search for Meaning
Realize that Difficulty & Pain is Inevitable & Important
The path of life can be rough and uncertain and sometimes frighteningly dark. Nothing should really surprise us, in reality, all of us at any time, no matter how strong or lucky we think we may be, are susceptible to unwanted pain and problems.
Your Attitude is Everything
Not enough money to pay the rent, a loved one dying from a terminal illness or the ending of what was once a deep and loving relationship.  These are all painful moments that we will experience. The secret to growing through the painfully tough times in life lies in your ability to stay focused on a strong belief in yourself and your creator. Your attitude towards whatever life throws your way is everything. The only thing constant is change and while your circumstances evolve, use every ounce of energy you have to grow stronger through it all. Ten Simple Habits to Grow a Positive Attitude.
Learning from Pain is a Damn Good Strategy
Everything that occurs in our lives – the good, the bad, the easy, the difficult -is usable and workable and is actually the path itself. We can use everything that happens to us as a means for waking up and strengthening our core beliefs and values.
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Difficult People Build Patience
Give up trying to control others, especially those who cause you frustration and harm. They are in your life to help you build patience. You can’t change them, but you can become a more tolerant person from being around them. Remember, you can only control your own thoughts and reactions, no one else’s.
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Don’t Make it Harder Than it Has to Be
See problems for what they are, not bigger than they are. Do not forecast more gloom and doom in your life or you will make a tough situation harder than it has to be. When something bad happens to us we want it to be over quickly and we feel extremely vulnerable. We imagine what worse can happen? What bigger problem is headed our way? Is this the start of a bigger collapse? Accept your reality for what it is right now and remember it is a moment in time that will pass. It really will. Know that everything in the universe, including your problems and challenges, are transforming the world and you.
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It is all meant to be. Practice what Tara Brach calls Radical Acceptance. Move with the transformation, feel the pain, breathe deeply into it and let it help you grow for the better.
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Don’t Try to Predict the Outcome
Soothe your mind by moving and meditating and staying right here, right now in the moment, even if it is painful. You don’t need to suffer so hard, take one step and a time and don’t think too far ahead.  Bring your ruminating and obsessing thoughts that are stuck in the past or worried about the future back to the here and now.
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Everyone Has Something or Someone to Appreciate
Awaken each day by recognizing what good you do have in your life. You always have something to work with. It might be a beautiful day for a long morning stroll or a steamy cup of strong dark coffee or a new soft-covered Moleskin notebook to write in or maybe a good friend to see, sit and chill with. Recognize and acknowledge that these gifts are right here in front of you.
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Use Your Silence to Explain Yourself
When situations are really rough, there may be nothing you can do to change the current moment. Sometimes doing nothing is precisely what you should be doing to help the situation. Some problems must work themselves out organically, in their own time, by people and actions you do not have to handle.  You aren’t suppose to fix everything.
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Watch your words. You must think before you speak. Try to say fewer and fewer words throughout the day. Make it a challenge. Bite your lip. Sometimes we speak because we are nervous. We can’t stand the silence, it’s just too awkward. Words can drown out the pain, but they don’t.
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Nervous words are never really useful. Think before you speak, not every thought is meant to be shared and sometimes words are just noise and nervous energy that add to the pain.
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What You Do Really Does Matter
We might struggle with our significance, but what you do with your day really matters. You get to decide what you do with your day. From what you eat to what you wear to who you call and where you decide to show up. Ever minute is a decision that you get to make. Smart decisions start with a clear mind.
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Keep your mind clear and free from obsessive worry and concern. This can be done by simply focusing on your current moment. This moment right now. Just sit or stand for a second and realize where you are. I know, it’s not easy. We walk around worried while writing a scary script over our painful reality. Our brain’s non-stop problem-solving can be mind bursting. We continue to make up additional problems that may never occur. Isn’t it ridiculous how preoccupied we are most of the time?  The trick is to stop. Pick anything in your environment. Look it at as if it is the first time you have ever observed it. Stay here in this moment. Here is where your mind will be clear and free.
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Watch What Drives You Mad
Watch what moves you. What triggers you. Examine your heart as you respond to others. What feels like a big chore and what truly excites you? If you don’t like some of the things or people or places that trigger anger, rage, pain, sadness or frustration in you, you have an option to walk away. Not to go there.  Perhaps taking the crowded train during rush hour makes you panic, concerned or nervous? You can choose to walk, share a car or ride a bike to work. If you look in the mirror and only see the chubby parts, the stomach you wish was flat, the legs that you want to look slim and tone – then you have a choice. You can start right now. Choose to count your calories, move more instead of sitting and make a plan to lose the extra weight.
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It’s Better to Be Kind than Right
No one ever remembers if you are right, but they certainly remember if you are kind. You have an opportunity every moment to be kind. To be kind is to be soft, sympathetic, compassionate and loving. Kindness – a listening ear, the touching of a hand, a warm embrace, a sympathetic glance. These little moments of kindness can smooth out even the toughest wrinkles of life. Sometimes they feel genuine, sometimes not. It doesn’t matter.
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Put Yourself Under the Microscope
Be painfully aware of the why behind everything you do. Why you rush in the morning? Does all the nervous rushing make you feel energized and in control? Like you are doing more? What are you avoiding by rushing? Why do you check Facebook throughout the day? Does it give your mind a rest from all the hard thinking? Is your job fulfilling enough? Do you secretly wish you were somewhere else? Does feeling jealous of others make you feel awake and alive?  Is your life that boring?  Why do you obsess over whether your boyfriend or girlfriend is cheating on you? Have you been completely honest with them? with yourself?
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Full Speed Ahead
Place yourself where you want to be. Don’t stay in the same place because it feels comfortable or because it is easy. You can’t grow while staying comfortably numb. Open up to the idea of exploring new spaces and environments to inspire you. Make new choices about where to eat, new bookstores to visit, new trails and parks to walk and hike. A new career to replace the shitty job you have. Placing yourself in new places that will open your mind to a bigger life and new opportunities. It starts with a small step, a simple self-seeking search into your heart and a strong, positive attitude.

Adding More Meaning -Moment-by-Moment

There is only one thing I know for sure. I’m not getting this moment back. Nope.  I am talking about this very single moment RIGHT NOW, this ONE. Yeah, it’s YOUR moment too.  Nope it’s gone. . . forever, unless by chance I read it again or you read it again – and if we do, it’s just a memory.

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All this angst about leaving a legacy. Creating a more purposeful life. Finding your so-called passion. Those are such big, big thoughts. Maybe, just maybe, it starts with adding more meaning to your little moments.

keithand becoming a little more self-aware with each one of these significant moments.

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Not every moment is a happy moment or a thoughtful one. Some are fucking ex·cru·ci·at·ing, others kind of blah and many are just wasted waiting for something big to happen. Like a trip or a vacation.
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Oh and once in a while we get those zone moments, where we are so lost in the moment we are one with it. Those are fun, but I am not sure we learn much from them. Maybe. I don’t know.
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I do know that I am very wary of the pleasant moments. These pleasurable moments are truly fleeting and kind of like a rest stop for pursuing a life that is substantial. It’s those struggling and suffering moments where the juice is – it’s how we grow. More often than not, creating something substantial feels like a bit of a pain-in-the-ass struggle. 

Luctor et Emergo (I struggle and emerge)

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I do believe we should get fined for wasting moments. Seriously, like a real penalty for sleep walking through life. That should be a thing. Maybe it already is – for when you sleep walk – wasting moments – you have nothing to show for your life.

Ridiculously Messy Moments

Slacky, hacky efforts, half ass attempts, ideas that flare and fade. My notebooks, computer and life – filled with so much of it. 
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False starts. Sucky first drafts. Thoughts that at first seem tremendous, turn into lost pages on my hard drive and coffee-stained scribble in dusty note books piled in the corner of my bedroom. 
 
Creating something more meaningful ignites when I continue to carve out time and care enough to consider all of the possibilities without giving that crazy critic in my head too much power, if any at all. I promise you, I am going to slaughter that nasty bitch who tells me I am destined to be boring, average and inconsequential. In the same moment, I will feed and comfort the darling who knows there’s something in here that wants to be born. 
 
In pursuit of making a life that is more meaningful, impactful, significant and substantial I must go back and revise old ideas, notions and believes, question everything I have ever learned or accepted as the truth. Time spent discarding memories, malware and malicious thoughts that chain me to that critic. It’s a process of freeing up my hard drive and only backing up what may be useful later or bolsters the foundation of my beliefs. A lot of house cleaning to be done here. 
 
Delete, delete, delete useless information while spending the time to entertain and play with creative notions and ideas that may, just, may turn into work that is really remarkable. 
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Making the time, space and room in my head and my life to do something I am proud of takes some deep ass consideration. Some real thought. 
 
It’s so much easier to drone on. 
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But it’s so dangerous and scary.
Time to wake up
What am I staying with that no longer serves me? What person, place, situation is holding me back from becoming a better version of who I was? What self-imposed slavery to something, someone, some notion is keeping me from breaking through these so called boundaries? 
 
To be continued. . . .

Daily Victories and Mapping Out a Successful Day

BigMagicFinal_cropped-for-headerMost of you will agree that we can read, listen and study for hours upon end on how to enhance our minds and become 1% better versions of ourselves daily, but the greatest lessons in life are from actual experience. 

Mapping Out a Successful Day

I am a professional list maker and note taker. If I don’t write it down, my wild and creative crazy nine year old inner child takes over and the next thing you know I have 20 projects that I have begun but will probably never finish. This is one of the things that I struggle with daily, so I have decided that as I begin to declutter my life and brain, I will become more mindful of my approach and system to tackling the day.

Listening to an interview with one of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of  Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear I love the way she handles the creative younger sister in her mind, the one who wants to do everything at once. She calms her down by devoting 15 minutes a day to letting her mind run free and capturing those creative thoughts on index cards and in notebooks – to do later on.   Listen to her interview with Rob Bell here.

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The Morning Journal, Master List and the Top 5 for the Day

As for prioritizing my daily to do list, I have a new approach. I have come to appreciate the wild and creative mind that I have as just an excitable version of me that wants it ALL and that is okay. I love that about me, I just know that I can’t do it ALL right now. So here are my steps/system to making it happen over time.

The Morning Journal

After a five minute gratitude journal moment, I write down my goals and tasks for the day/week/month in Evernote. I love how Evernote is accessible from everywhere – my phone, desktop, tablet and laptop and automatically syncs my lists so they are always updated.

Organizing My Tasks – The Master List

I organize these tasks in three categories: Personal, Work and Creating (writing, photography, making things). I dump everything I want to include in this master list – things like outlining my book, clients I have to call, learning more about social media strategy and tools like Periscope, etc.

My Daily Top Five

I then take a notebook from Muji (love this Japanese store) and write down the Top 5 tasks I will complete for the day – or start for the month. I am sure to include at least one thing from each area of my life to keep it balanced. I prioritize by sense of urgency and importance.

I also use Moleskin note books and Pinterest to help keep track of things that inspiring me throughout the day.

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Recording Daily Activities

Try this with me.  I am now committed to taking an extra 90 seconds a day and recording not only what I have achieved, but how it felt to accomplish the task. This will include my personal and work achievements because I don’t believe any one of my clients is recording my wins. This job journal will come in handy later on when I decide to raise my fees and move towards more.

Organizing Systems

If you love journals and notebooks and have developed a system for creating tasks and documenting wins I would love to hear more about what works for you. Be sure to comment in the section below.

Moleskine_notebooks_GROUP Moleskine Classic Notebook, Extra Large, Plain, Black, Soft Cover (7.5 x 10) (Classic Notebooks)

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Not just for wandering the world, Midori Traveler’s Notebook Brown Leather (1, 1 LB)

Because inspiration can spark at any time. . .

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Rite in the Rain – Green Tactical Note Book (All Weather)

On your road to greatness, the details make all the difference. Write them down.

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Leuchtturm Medium Notebook, Ruled, 5.75 x 8.25 inches (LBL11)

Instant Karma and A Trip to Paradise

instant-karmaMost of us in the western part of the world believe that karma is a supernatural universal law of justice. He or she did something bad, hurtful, deceitful, etc. well, karma will get them in the end.

The reality and truth is, when the eastern sages spoke about karma, they were speaking about selfishness. The word “karma” in Sanskrit means “action” and the Buddha believed in two types of action. Bad selfish action and good selfless action. Bad selfish action promotes, protects and aggrandizes the ego which in turn leads to inner suffering, distress, remorse and guilt.

buddhaThe real suffering is on the inside and when we are unconscious of our perpetuating selfish actions, however small they may be, we continue to suffer all the time.

I stumbled upon this explanation and more from Leo Gura on Actualized.org. What Is Karma exactly? – Watch a rational explanation of how karma really works and why it’s extremely relevant to your happiness levels.

On My Book Shelf

Instant Karma is a collection of thousands of ways to create good karma for yourself and others. The advice in Barbara Ann Kipfer’s book is based on the principles of Buddhism and emphasizes the importance of physical health, spiritual growth and peace.

41w7fE7c8DL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_A few pearls of wisdom from this little gem of a book.

  • Throughout the day, ask yourself, Am I paying attention?
  • Then ask yourself, Why judge?
  • Do not expect praise or reward.
  • Give confidence to others.
  • Life is positive, only your thinking is negative.
  • See everything in your life as a gift.

Remember that looking for happiness outside yourself is like expecting to get in shape by watching others exercise.

Read more, here:  Instant Karma

Believe the best is yet to be.

 

7 Mindful Habits for Growth

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Learning is an investment in yourself. I am obsessed with learning and discovering new ways to amplify my growth and expansion. Every day I commit some time to listen, watch or read something to expand my mind. For a list of what I am currently reading, etc., click here.

My learning ritual forces me out of my comfort zone, helping me climb to a new more expansive view of reality while I continue to discover  true daily disciplines and mindful habits to incorporate into my practice. Remembering this, here is what is resonating with me right now . . .

  1. My purpose is to create extraordinary value and serve others as profoundly as I can.
  2. Frustration is my friend. Like a true friend, frustration has an important message to help me grow. I curiously listen to my frustration so I can learn.
  3. Rejection is just feedback. Understanding this, I am able to review this feedback and correct my mistakes and move forward.
  4. I  keep a beginner’s mind. I remember that my growth is a never ending process of improvement and transformation.
  5. Life will pay me exactly what I ask for it and it is okay to ask for more.
  6. My life, relationships and investments in myself and others must be managed and cared for daily. I remain grateful for all that I have right now.
  7. I commit to giving more than I expect to receive. Always.

How about you? I would love for you to share what is resonating with you.

 

Living in a World Where Everyone is Real

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One of the most remarkable things I’ve noticed about the Dalai Lama is how he treats everyone equally. While one newspaper photo shows him lovingly embracing Jesse Helms, another shows him with his arms around the poor Tibetan refugee. When the Dalai Lama says, “My religion is kindness,” he is expressing his commitment to live with the unconditionally open and loving heart of compassion. Kindness is a facet of the jewel that arises when we remember that we are connected with every living being we meet.

Each person is precious, each person is fragile and each person matters.

Direct quote from Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Image of a girl at a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan.

The Art of Not Panicking, Keeping Your Composure and How to Re-Write the Rules of Life

John Glenn“When America raced to send the first men into space, they trained the astronauts in one skill more than in any other: the art of not panicking.

When people panic, they make mistakes. They override systems. They disregard procedures, ignore rules. They deviate from the plan. They become unresponsive and stop thinking clearly. At 150 miles above Earth in a spaceship smaller than a VW, this is death. Panic is suicide.”

A quote from Ryan Holiday’s fascinating book

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

ObstacleDuring his orbit around earth, American astronaut John Glenn’s heart rate never went above 100 beats per minute. Consider that for a moment, he was in a tiny space ship miles and miles above our planet and he never lost his cool.

Every Day Work Day Panic and Anxiety

Flash to the average work week. Think about how some of us react to what happens throughout our day. Even some of the smallest challenges become ridiculously big obstacles (in our minds).

  • Our hearts begin to race while mind-ruminates and body tenses as we frustratingly fret over how to respond to a mean-spirited and snarky email from a co-worker.
  • Our stomach churning as we hold our breath before an important sales pitch presentation.
  • We run for the bar before we work the room at yet another after-hour “networking” event. Our minds not in the game and just going through the motions.

We become stuck, paralyzed by obstacles of and not of our own making. The daily struggle lies in turning trials into triumphs and the awful into opportunity. Want to dive deeper? Read more about the secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai here.

Pause, Breathe and Take a Moment to Compose Yourself

xanaxIf you have read this far, I would imagine that you are not rummaging through your bag for another .5 mg dose of Xanax, but looking for a healthier and more mindful way to deal with every day panic and anxiety.

Research shows meditation-style breathing can make you courageous,increase your attention span, and even boost happiness.

Take just five minutes each day to watch your breath go in and out. While you do so, try to remain patient. If you find your mind drifting, just slowly bring it back to focus. Meditation takes practice, but it’s one of the most powerful happiness interventions. Studies show that in the minutes right after meditating, we experience feelings of calm and contentment, as well as heightened awareness and empathy. And, research even shows that regular meditation can permanently rewire the brain to raise levels of happiness, lower stress, even improve immune function.

What matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure.

Ambition with Meaning

Lately I have been listening to many a friend and family member share their concern and desire to change they way they are living now, moving away from the driving demands of a 14 hour work day to a more purposeful, peaceful and calmer life. Yes ambition is necessary and can even be wonderful but ambition with meaning, well that shit is sacred.

Navigating your life with Poise, Grace and Power

Some of these more mindful millennials that I refer to have the resources to enjoy a ten day getaway to discover meditation and mindfulness on solitude retreats. A ten-day stint in a tree house in the jungles of Tulum, Mexico on Airbnb with water cleansing massages and sun basked mud masks.

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I have noticed a huge movement of those waking up earlier in life to realize, “not my rules, not my purpose.”  The intention: Re-write the rules, make more room for meaning in their lives. Make money, but with pleasure.

Truth be told, you don’t need to go away and remove yourself from your environment to make a change. You don’t need to quit your job right way either. What you can do, is change your perception to what is happening around you right now and focus on designing a life filled with daily habits that are more conducive to a meaningful life.

Ground Control

It all starts with controlling our perception. When something is happening to us we need to ask, How am I perceiving this? What meaning am I giving it? It is really a horrific experience or is it an opportunity for growth?

I have a big secret to share. A vulnerable moment for me. I  use to suffer from severe anxiety, panic disorder and fear. Movement, meditation and mindfulness have become my daily dose of medication.

Curious, how are you managing your panic, your anxiety? How are you adding more meaning to your life? How are you re-writing the rules?

Your Standing Ovation

Mick Jagger Oakland 1969
Mick Jagger Oakland 1969

We have all had this anxious moment. The split-second before you post. You re-read your writing, watch your video for the 50th time, re-work a paint stroke or study your sketch and ask yourself- – Is this authentic enough?  Does it stand out in a sea of sameness? Is it “unique” enough for the world to appreciate?

Michael Port, Author of Steal the Show, said it brilliantly in an interview the other day.

You don’t have to be different to make a difference.

Must Read
Steal the Show: From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches, How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life

Madeline Johnson's Top Book Picks
An inspiring read “Steal the Show” has great work and life performance advice.

In my mind, way too much cred has been given to creating “authentic” and original work in a “unique” way.  This thought can really stifle your creativity.  Worrying about the “authenticity” of your work will only blur your vision and mission. Instead, strive to create a higher caliber of work each day. Your best work. You see, the distinction is that you are already different from everyone else. You don’t need to focus on your authenticity, you are already unique, just as you are. Yes, you do stand out in a crowd, even if you do absolutely nothing.

It also really helps if what you are creating what truly inspires you. If you are bored doing it, then chances are someone else will be bored reading or watching it.

Driven to Perfection

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to tip toe to my grave safely. I want to take risks, chances, I want to soar through this life.

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So I will let my fear be the fuel. The reality is, we all are afraid.

One of my favorite morning rituals is to listen to Brian Johnson’s Philosopher Notes. They are short, sweet, little bits of wisdom that can fuel your day. If you haven’t already, I highly suggest you subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

In one of my favorite mini-classes, he mentions taking a deep breathe when fear freezes you. Thinking back on my daily meditation practice, everything I have been learning and last night’s Vinyasa Flow Yoga class I find it funny and ironic, that the simple act of breathing has become such a “thing” in my new found intentional life.  Who knew something so mindful and simple could help so much.

Listen to Brian’s 10 minute video  for more tips on how to move through your fears. “How to Conquer Your Fear in 30 Seconds.

Are You Destined for Greatness?

violin-newHave you ever wondered what make some people wildly successful, others just middle of the road mediocre and  some just, well really bad at what they do?

Are the super successful achievers bestowed  some special divine gift? Some inborn or innate ability? Is there such a thing as a natural born leader? Have you ever wondered what category you fit in?  Are you destined for greatness?  I could be wrong, but I imagine that any of us putting ourselves out there want to achieve some level of success, giving our greatest performances.

The Reality and Great “Secret” of Success

I was so lit up yesterday by an interview that I heard on the Unmistakable Creative podcast with Geoff Colvin who wrote a few books on the topic. His questions began with  . . . What makes Tiger Woods great? What made  Chairman Warren Buffett the world’s premier investor? We think we know: Each was a natural who came into the world with a gift for doing exactly what he ended up doing. As Buffett told Fortune not long ago, he was “wired at birth to allocate capital.” It’s a one-in-a-million thing. You’ve got it – or you don’t.

Well, it’s not so simple. For one thing, you do not possess a natural gift for a certain job, because targeted natural gifts don’t exist. (Sorry, Warren.) You are not a born CEO or investor or chess grandmaster. You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful.

Read the entire Fortune article here and it turns out that Colvin was inspired by a study about daily demanding deliberate violinist practice  that pushed them just a bit each day. Just a bit. You can read the original study on deliberate practice here.

The take away for me (and I would love your opinion). You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful. Great performances are available to all of us with daily deliberate practice.

Two books on my list to read this month –

Geoff Colvin  Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else and Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will

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