Aiming Higher & Reaching Over Your Heart

They say you are drawn to what you value. What you think is really important in life. Your values lead you to the types of friends you associate with, the places you visit, the work you enjoy, who you fall in love with, what you do in your free time and all the other incredible things you do here on this big, crazy, beautiful planet.

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We don’t talk about the importance of having good values in school. We should, but we don’t.  Not yet anyway. 

I am thinking about my values a lot lately. What I use to value (having a lot of fun, making a lot of money, looking a certain way, etc) and what my values look like now. My values are changing quickly. The more I grow, the more my values change. 

The type of personality traits I now value. For me and for you.

1. Optimistic warmth (genuine kindness, thoughtfulness, and a sense that the glass is always at least half full);

2. Intelligence (not just “smarts” but rather an insatiable curiosity to learn for the sake of learning);

3. Work ethic (a natural tendency to do something as well as it can possibly be done);

4. Empathy (an awareness of, care for, and connection to how others feel and how your actions make others feel);

5. Self-awareness (an understanding of what makes you tick

6.  Integrity (a natural inclination to be accountable for doing the right thing with honesty and superb judgment).

This trait list inspired by this article about what Danny Meyer’s says to look for when hiring the right people.

Act II: Living a More Deliberate  and Intentional Life

Anytime I see anyone from high school whether in real life or on social media, they say they remember me as this carefree, fun loving girl with tons of energy. 

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While the life of the party might have served me well for all thing things that high school is about – partying, socializing and basically having a great time (at least that was my experience), those same traits led me down some very challenging and difficult paths.

Why?

Because I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted. I lived so “in the moment” that I never really stopped to seriously consider what I wanted to do with my life. So, I didn’t make any real decisions for myself. I just let things happenI just did whatever anyone else was doing. If it looked good and sounded like fun, I did it.  -Like going to the same college as my best friend – why not?  Choosing a career that allowed me to speak in front of many, many people and express my point of view. Of course. Eloping with the guy I met on the train –well okay? Having four children in the span of six years, because, well, who was thinking, planning or considering the responsibilities involved in raising four beautiful humans?

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Now, on the flip side, I have a very strong ability to keep on keeping on. Most likely a choice-supportive bias with a bit of ambiguity effect in place here. Resilient, persistent and stubborn to the point of stupidity, I made it through and by society’s standards with a decent amount of success.

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I built the career, raised the children, made the money, bought the house, went on the vacations and somehow even seemed to survive the roller coaster ride of being married and divorced to a bipolar manic depressive who was non-compliant with his medication and irrationally obsessed with traveling the country tripping his balls off while following the Grateful Dead.

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You see I made choices without really knowing myself and stuck to my cognitive biases and compromised so much of myself. It’s not like I feared anything, but more like I just kept going, without ever questioning. I was determined to starve before I was hungry.

Until now. Now I can be anywhere I want, doing anything I damn well feel. Which begs the question.

What does a life filled with intention look like for me? 

You see, the way I look at it – if I got this far not knowing what the hell I wanted, well can you just imagine when I do?

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I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. 

Henry David Thoreau.

 

Beautiful image of the woman with the dove coming out of her face.

Living Intentionally

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I have come upon a shift in thinking.  It’s the difference between living a life that is unprepared, off-the-cuff and according to the demands and cries of others TO a more deeply connected, intentional and thoughtful life.

A life designed to inspire and ignite others.

It’s a conscious decision to move away from my “ad-libbed” life, towards an artful, improvised life with deliberate purpose and meaning.

“My life is not an apology, but a life. It is for itself and not for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady.” Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson    Read Self Reliance

I will no longer live a reactionary life as I move away from ” making it up as I go” TO steering my life with clear intention and genuine vision, headed in the direction of my heart.

Honoring myself and the eternal verities every step of the way.

This choice I have made, to live a responsive and purposeful life. A deliberate and well-designed life sparked by deep inquiry.

I arrange each day in such a way that I am living thoughtfully, mindfully and respectively with the best version of me.

Inspired by

Actor and HB Studio Acting Coach David Deblinger 

Jonathan Fields

Michael Port’s 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

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Mastery synthesizes the years of research Robert Greene conducted while writing the international bestsellers The 48 Laws of PowerThe 33 Strategies of War, and The Art of Seduction and demonstrates that the ultimate form of power is mastery itself.

Mastery

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In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The willful warrior, the worry-free wanderer, the mindful self-mastered and the curious creator . The spontaneous-seeker summoned by synchronicity.  The truth teller. May we all live intentional and thoughtful lives.

How are you living more deliberately today?

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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Game On

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Today I consider the question that baffles my mind, the question I love to hate most-How do we live our true purpose in life?

I actually considered banning this question from my thoughts, but was inspired this morning with this kind of awesome idea. It goes something like this –

Begin with – guarding our thoughtsThe mind is everything. What you think you become. –Buddha

First we must carefully protect our minds. Our minds produce thoughts. Our thoughts will become our actions, which if done mindfully, will become our habits and our habits become our destiny.  A possibility of a destiny of greatness. It starts there.

And then – Ask ourselves one very simple question.

Note – in order to find our passion and live with purpose – this question should be asked over and over again, momentarily, daily, weekly – right now.  Especially when we feel confused, lost, disillusioned and worried.

What would the highest version of myself do in this moment? What would the bravest, fearless, strongest, happiest, calmest version of me do right now?

Then, we simply we remain open to the answer. Perhaps it is to apologize, share a kind word, maybe a compassionate hug, an encouraging email. Or perhaps it is the inspiration to go out for a long walk or simply to call a friend. Just do that highest version thing moment after moment and watch your true purpose unfold. Game on.

It is when we live like this that we are living with true purpose and intention. We are living a purpose that is in line with our highest self,  while radiating hope, optimism, gratitude, kindness, creativity, energy, beauty, enthusiasm, courage, diligence, playfulness, patience, persistence and generosity.

Every moment we have a choice, we can step forward into the highest version of ourselves or back into the safe habits of how we were. We bear the choice, to go in one direction or another, backwards or forwards, right now.

Inspired by Brian Johnson’s Philosopher Notes

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Consider the possibilities when we take a moment to spend our time in wonder and awe. To rest in this moment in grateful appreciation for the miracle that it is. To recognize and celebrate as we stop reducing time spent in the form of milestones and achievement.

Inspired by

Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

The Miracle of Mindfulness and Mono-Tasking

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thich-nhat-hanh-colour“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.

Thích Nhất Hạnh

Adventure travel isn’t always about riding big waves, biking through forests and ascending new heights — sometimes it’s about wandering inside, to explore the realm of our inner worlds. I’m stoked to be going to Town Hall NYC  to hear one of the most influential spiritual leaders of our time, Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh

This week in the US, 75 monks and nuns from Thich Nhat Hanh’s monastic order launched a cross-country “Miracle of Mindfulness” tour. #miracleofmindfulness Visit http://www.tnhtour.org/ for the tour schedule.

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Mono-tasking – the opposite of multi-tasking, when we are really engaged in what we are doing, that one thing right now. The unobstructed mind.

This practice helps us to become more and more awake to our presence. To wake up to recognize what is really taking place right now.

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Interested in learning more about Buddhism and Thay? The 14 Mindfulness Trainings from the Order of Interbeings.

Read

The Miracle of Mindfulness: The Classic Guide by the World’s Most Revered Master