Your alarm goes off and without opening your eyes you hit the snooze button. “I’m not ready yet,” is the first thought that goes through your head. You lay there in bed, allowing all kinds of thoughts to flood your mind. “I wish I could sleep longer. I have so much to do today and I have no idea if or how I’m going to get it all done. I hope the kids aren’t up yet.” These are the first thoughts and they immediately rob you of empowerment and usurp your authority at the beginning of YOUR day… and for the rest of your day.
Anyone who’s had any amount of success in a venture knows this singular truth… a successful outcome for any project never looks like you envisioned it in the beginning. The path to success rarely runs according to the plan. The people you wanted to be involved with when you started executing never end up participating just the way you had hoped. The value that you ended up bringing to the world never looks like the value you had to offer in the beginning. And yet you have success all the same and it doesn’t matter that you took a winding path. The reason for the windy path is two-fold. First, life is never how we plan it. There are always variables that we never anticipate, no matter how long we brainstorm in our planning sessions. But, that doesn’t mean that we can’t choose to enjoy the creative process. Sometimes the unforeseen challenges that come up along the way lead us to our greatest innovations. Second, The Divine has way more in store for us than we have in store for ourselves. We can see clearly a few steps out on a great day. Some days, we can’t even see where our feet will land next. But The Divine sees further down the road than we could imagine and I believe takes great delight in throwing some curves and surprises our way. It’s these unplanned events, challenges and obstacles that hone our skills and strengthen us for even greater adventures and success in the future.
Thomas Edison had thousands of experiments that did not produce as he had hoped. However, he chose to see each of those as a stepping on his climb to success. Even the great plant fire of 1914, which destroyed half of his buildings, did not deter him. Instead, he saw it as an opportunity to rebuild a better one.
When you set your mark on creating something there will be unseen setbacks, course corrections, and help along the way. The cool thing is that these setbacks usually offer us the opportunity to tweak our work and humanity benefits from it in ways we never would have imagined. It’s the turns and obstacles in the road that refine and strengthen the value that we have to offer the world.
This will also test our resolve. ‘Are you truly called to do this?’ That’s a question you’ll end up asking yourself time and time again. But the difference with the successful person is that regardless of the twists and turns, they continue moving forward because they are convinced that the next breakthrough is directly on the other side of the seemingly impossible task that lies in front of them. So they make adjustments, put their head down, and continue the work they started. We are always adjusting our plan along the way.
There will be times when it seems like the people who were most interested in being involved in your project are no longer interested. But this isn’t always the case. That’s the lizard brain freaking you out. Sometimes people are just busy and it doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten you and your work. Other times they’ll back out completely for whatever reason they might have. It doesn’t matter. You’re going to keep moving on anyways. Because one things for sure… If you do stop, lose heart completely, and give up, there will be no successful windy path to look back on with gratitude and a sense of accomplishment.
"You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen." - Paul Coelho
"If you so choose, even the unexpected setbacks can bring new and positive possibilities. If you so choose, you can find value and fulfillment in every circumstance." - Ralph Marston
"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." - Winston Churchill
Everyone has a recurring thought… or two… or thousands. Similar thoughts bind together after being laid one on top of the other over the years to form a strong belief system. The incredible thing about belief systems is that they serve as a map to interpret the world around us, including our place in the world, and have the incredible power to shape our decisions in life. The power of a strongly held belief has exponential implications for the life of an individual and a community. Take Vera for example. She is in her late twenties and has come to believe that… “I’m just not that smart.” Why does she believe this? Why does she choose to see herself this way? If you asked her she would tell you that it’s mere fact. She never excelled in academics and was always in the middle to lower end of her class in terms of performance. She would tell you that there are certain books she just shouldn’t waste her time reading because there are some concepts that are ‘beyond’ her scope. With this belief entrenched in Vera’s mind, emotions and body, she limits her potential career opportunities, relationship dynamics, and possibility for growth in almost every area of her life. Exponential implications.
But if you press the question ‘why do you believe this’, there are all sorts of alternative possibilities to the opinion that she holds to so firmly.
Is it possible that Vera had an incredibly negative experience with an educator at an early age and always associated emotionally negative feelings with school, in turn tainting her desire to study or learn in that environment? Is it possible that one or both of her parents sent her the message that ‘no one in our family is all that smart and that’s just fine with us because no one likes a know-it-all.’ Could it be that different people learn and grow intellectually in various ways and the particular methods in which Vera is challenged intellectually were never afforded her along her educational path? Is it possible that the structure of western education is so focused on conformity to specific methods of education that often those who don’t conform as well to these methods are improperly labeled or mistakenly diagnosed with a disability? How many times would a young, impressionable mind have to be told this by an authority figure before they owned it as truth?
There are so many variations of these restricting views of ourselves that we tend to accept as fact, when in all likelihood, they are just opinions formed over time. Thoughts that we bought into enough times that they grew into a belief system, which we now whole-heartedly subscribe to.
I’m no good at math.
I can’t write to save my life.
I just can’t stop myself from eating.
I am not very coordinated.
My brother is the creative one.
I’m incapable of getting organized.
I can’t follow through on things.
I don’t have what it takes.
I’m not a good communicator.
I’m terrible at relationships and always will be.
Today I just want to call to your attention that there may be some beliefs you hold as truth about yourself and they are limiting you. Further, these beliefs aren’t based on reality, but are based on the collection of some data you’ve incorrectly extrapolated from some recurring experiences in your past. I would like you to list 3 beliefs you’ve held onto for almost as long as you can remember that you know limit you. And ask this question about each of of the beliefs you’ve listed… “Is it possible that it isn’t true?”
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____________________________________________________________________________ "Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives."
"What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are." - Anthony Robbins
"Truth lives, in fact, for the most part on a credit system. Our thoughts and beliefs pass, so long as nothing challenges them, just as bank-notes pass so long as nobody refuses them." - William James
“Never limit your view of life by any past experience” - Ernest Holmes
Doing the work is rarely sexy, but it has teeth. Many people have talked about what it means to ‘do the work’. When we talk about ‘work’ we are talking about so much more than you ‘job’. The work is anything that needs to get done, by you, in order to move from where we are to where we want to be. And its rarely easy. The work is rarely glamorous but it moves us forward.
Work takes discipline. Work takes energy.
Work means changing your schedule and getting up early doing the cardio routine you don't want to do. It means sitting down to write the pages you don't feel like writing. It’s having the difficult conversations that you just don’t want to have.
Work means making difficult choices. It often times means simplifying and sacrificing now for something greater in the end. You can tell who does the work. They are the ones who began living their lives on their terms and they haven’t regretted it for a moment.
Work means saying no to so many other things so that you can say yes to the things you truly want. And those things that you say no to immediately often times make us feel better right away but leave us wanting and far from our goals.
Work means keeping an open heart when all you want to do is close down. Work means being vulnerable when all you want to do is hide.
Work often means ignoring the criticism of others and not pleasing the masses. Work can often times feels lonely even though it isn't.
Work usually happens in the midst of crippling fear, not without it. It means moving forward with the plan even when we're scared to death of being rejected, failing, or more likely... scared of succeeding.
This is why it's called work. But doing the work makes all the difference. It allows us to sleep at night with a clear head. You already know it but I'm going to say it anyways. Nothing comes easy. But all things are possible, with the Divine and some work.
If you've done any self-reflecting, you probably are aware of some of the work in your life that you need to do. Now get to work.
Our quality of life is dependent on many things. Amazingly enough, our quality of life is not dependent on the circumstances of our world. It isn’t dependent upon your spouse or significant other. It isn’t dependent upon how well our children behave or if they meet our expectations. Our quality of life isn’t dependent up on our job or our income. I believe our quality of life is determined by how we respond to life circumstances and the meanings we attach to what is happening in our life. I’m not talking about being a ‘glass is half full’ kind of person. I’m talking about attaching real meaning to what occurs in life and choosing to respond in a way that helps us live the kind of life we want to live.
What kind of life do you want? How often do you think about what kind of life you want? The question isn’t ‘what kind of life did you parents want for you?’ or your friends, or the culture you’ve been surrounded with or the particular faith tribe or political affiliations you have. The question is ‘what kind of life do YOU want?’ Only you can answer that question. And your answer to that question will determine your quality of life.
Lets say you’re in a job that leaves you completely unsatisfied. Maybe you hate it or maybe you’re simply… unsatisfied. You could spend the next 5 years (which would be way too long) complaining, wishing, hoping for a new job. One that aligns closer to your purposes and the intentions you have for life. If you’ve spent a fair amount of time and work, thinking about, meditating and praying about what kind of life you want to live, then the direction forward will be much more clear to you and you will be 10 steps closer to landing the kind of job you feel is aligned with your purpose on the planet (Full disclosure: I believe everyone’s purpose involves adding value to the lives as others).
Discovering what kind of life we want isn’t impossible. Those answers are lying there deep within us. At first we may just have some general ideas. I want to feel loved, I want to feel connected, I want to feel freedom, etc. But as we do the work and process and dig to the core of who we are, these general ideas will get more and more specific. Doing this work often times will reveal a road map, so to speak, of how we move towards the kind of life we want.
Some of you reading this are saying, ‘duh’ Brad. That’s a no brainer. But some reading this have had vague ideas of what they want, but have never clarified and done the work to get clear on what kind of life they want to live.
Some of you may be saying, ‘that’s too much focus on me’. Well that’s a whole other issue. But suffice it to say, if you can’t focus on what you want in life, you’ll only be able to give to others at a fraction of your potential.
So I ask you… what kind of life do you want?
Today I will take the time to begin to do the work to get clear on what kind of life I want. I will carve time out of my schedule and get silent, meditate, pray, do the things that make me come alive, so that I can get in touch with my core, my heart. The answer to this question lies within me and I am capable of getting clear on what kind of life I want.
There are ways in which we think about ourselves that often we aren’t aware of. Take self-acceptance for example. There is nothing more powerful than the ability to love yourself. And the first step to loving yourself is accepting yourself, just the way you are… right now. Not 1 year from now, or 3 years from now. Not when you have a different job, the great promotion, the right life partner, the right children, the right house, car, etc. But accepting yourself right now, just the way you are. Here is how most of us operate. There are things about our lives that we aren’t satisfied with. Maybe it is something as simple as not being satisfied with our job. So we don’t accept that part of our life until we end up having the kind of job we like or the kind of income we desire. We tell ourselves that once that happens we can accept ourselves and really begin loving ourselves. What we often don’t realize is that isn’t how self-acceptance and self-love work. It doesn’t just begin to happen when we reach certain ‘goals’. No. Self-acceptance and self-love begin when we make the choice to accept ourselves. And this is a choice we must make day after day for the rest of our lives.
Now the job scenario was an easy one. Lets dig a little deeper. Maybe there is something about yourself that you just can’t stand. Maybe it’s the way you can never keep to a diet or an exercise routine. Maybe it’s something as simple as the inability to quit smoking. Or maybe you don’t like how judgemental you are or you don’t like how easily you give yourself away physically because you’re just desperate for love and connection.
There are several issues that arise when we aren’t accepting of ourselves. The first is we often take on a sense of shame and ownership in a very negative way. We believe that because we’ve made a mistake or messed up again, we deserve the shame and many of the negative emotions that we feel towards ourselves. Secondly, we tell ourselves that this behavior is unacceptable, and so, we are unacceptable. This is such a huge block to growth in our lives.
It is nearly impossible to make changes in our lives when we are being motivated from a place of disapproval, unacceptance, and self-dislike. Nothing drains us more of motivation and energy than to dislike ourselves. Nothing blocks our hearts off from the love of the Divine more than our own self-hatred and self-loathing. And this is the nasty dirty little secret of life. We want to change because we recognize that we want to live better lives, but secretly, in ways we often aren’t aware of, we hate ourselves for making the mistakes we make on a regular basis. And self-hatred is completely counter-productive to growth and change.
But what if we radically accepted ourselves right now. Without hesitation. What if we CHOSE to accept ourselves with all of our warts and blemishes. What if we accepted ourselves right now, even though we are addicted to ____________________ or can’t help ourselves when it comes to _______________________.
When we accept ourselves just the way we are, by simply making the choice to, we relax our hearts and open them to be filled with new life. Our hands, that were once clinging to self-hatred and disapproval are now free to reach for and hold onto hope, change, and growth. You will find it almost impossible to make change based on self-hatred and disapproval. So make the choice to accept yourself just the way you are and begin to experience the motivation and energy to change because you care for yourself and want the best for yourself. It’s the difference between night and day within your own heart.
If you believe in a Higher Power you might start by asking For help in this area. If you don't believe in a Higher Power you might start by taking five minutes to sit with the decision to accept yourself.
Even though I can’t stand that I always ______________________________, I choose to totally, deeply, and completely love and accept myself, just the way I am. In loving and accepting myself I am choosing a better way of life.