Earlier this year, at the National Speakers Association conference in Atlanta, experts shared the latest technology, marketing strategies and best practices to grow our speaking, training and consulting businesses.
The conference concluded with a panel of six “million dollar” speakers and consultants, including the consultant’s ultimate consultant, Alan Weiss, and leadership development speaker Mark Sanborn. Roxanne Emmerich, the author of “Thank God It’s Monday,” said that we are not selling information or knowledge but rather wisdom. Hmmm. Wisdom as a commodity.
Wisdom is defined as insight, the ability to discern what is true. Wise people are often considered enlightened, which means to be free of illusions.
So, how can you bring more wisdom to your work? Here are three ways.
1) Tap into your wisdom. Employ proven practices like meditation, trusting your intuition and paying attention to dreams to solve problems, boost creativity and make wise choices. Confucius advised, “By three methods we may learn wisdom: first by reflection, which is noblest; second by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.” Take time to reflect.
2) Focus on what matters. Distractions can often be mistaken for opportunities and much of what we fear never materializes. Every day, we are seduced by bad news, superfluous interactions on social media sites, and the latest gizmos and gadgets. Just because you can participate, doesn’t mean you should. When you get sidetracked on your road to success, save your precious time and energy by simply asking yourself if this detour really matters.
3) Emulate wise qualities. According to The Talmud, “The highest form of wisdom is kindness.” Whenever you can, express genuine compassion, concern and appreciation for your coworkers, employees, clients, vendors and associates. By doing so, you will inspire them to do the same.
“There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it,” said Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Edith Wharton. Either way is wise.
The other day, as I was contemplating our human tendency to focus on mistakes and missed opportunities, the above quote formulated in my mind and made its way to this blog. It was a comfort to me and I hope to you, too.
As I mentor and consult, I find that some of my clients have limited their success because of their fear of standing out or speaking up. Some choose to take on too much responsibility, instead of delegating duties. Others compare themselves with colleagues and wish they had pursued that big account, written that book or taken that risk.
When you see failure as just more data, you are free to take more chances, celebrate your mistakes and savor the lessons learned. And, you are less likely to harbor restrictive regrets and resentments about yourself or others.
Acclaimed 18th century poet and critic Alexander Pope got
it right when he said, “To err is human, to forgive, divine.”
When I was young, my ultimate sacrifice was always the same: Chocolate. Sometimes I was successful. Mostly, not.
Now, this ritual holds more meaning as I choose to give up something that no longer serves me. Think about a self-defeating belief or behavior or destructive habit. It might be your tendency to judge others, worrying about things you have no control over, or spending too much time watching TV or on Facebook. Then, contemplate what you’ll receive in return. Perhaps a sense of peace or more time to focus on what matters.
To make this sacrifice easier and to fool that part of you that resists any kind of change, assure yourself it’s only for a week, or month or maybe 40 days. Use strategies like affirmations and visualization to strengthen your resolve.
I’m still deciding what I’ll give up but I already know, whatever it is, I’ll get much more in return. And I know it won’t be chocolate.
Clean Out the Clutter, the first of the five steps in the “CRAVE Your Goals!” formula, always gets the strongest response from audience members and clients. It’s also the one practice that produces the fastest results.
Most people understand physical clutter, like a messy workspace or overflowing closet, and technical clutter, like an over-reliance on your cell phone or too much time on the Internet.
However, emotional clutter is often more insidious and difficult to detect. It’s the regrets, resentments and things you haven’t forgiven about someone else or perhaps yourself. Just like physical and technical clutter, this emotional clutter can distract, confuse and exhaust you. Give yourself a belated gift this Valentine’s Day and release emotional clutter so you will have the time and energy to focus on what’s most important. Here are three more areas to consider:
- Unnecessary Obligations. Assess all your ongoing commitments–from networking groups to committees–and resign from those that are non-essential and no longer serve you.
- Unfinished Business. Review the section of your to-do list that never seems to get checked off and decide if you can release or delegate it.
- Toxic People. Negative people drain your energy and waste your precious time. If you can (so-called friends and neighbors), end the relationship and, if you can’t (family and coworkers), set up healthy boundaries and limit your interactions. “Being there for them” only enables them to continue this behavior.
Did I strike a chord?
I read the enlightening book “Happy for No Reason” by Marci Shimoff and am enjoying many Aha! moments. The title refers to a natural state of inner peace and well-being that is not dependent on external circumstances. In other words, no one or no thing can create this state for you or take it away from you.
There’s a list of 20 questions to help you evaluate how happy for no reason you are right now. You’re asked to rate them on a scale of 1 (not at all true) to 5 (absolutely true). Just pondering these questions reminds you of how much control you have over your own happiness. Here are some that resonated with me.
1) I live in the moment.
2) I don’t let bad situations keep me down.
3) Most days I have an experience of laughter or joy.
4) I trust that this is a friendly universe.
5) I look for the gift or the lesson in everything that happens.
6) I am able to let go and forgive.
7) I feel love for myself.
8) I feel a general sense of gratitude.
9) I feel connected to something bigger than myself.
10) I feel inspired by a sense of purpose in my life.
Consider how much happier you could be if you embraced more of these beliefs and habits. Share your comments.
As the year comes to a close, I always encourage my clients to delay writing their New Year’s resolutions until they have written the current year’s success list. Why? Because you’re much more likely to be focused and confident that you can achieve new goals when you first acknowledge and celebrate your past accomplishments. Few of us take the time to do that.
Start by making room by writing numbers one through 20 down the left margin of your paper so you’ll list at least 20 successes. Consider what you’re most proud of this year, including family and friends, health, work, finances and fun. Then, go deeper to the lessons learned and gifts that come from disappointments and setbacks. Once your list is complete, share it with those you trust and encourage them to do the same. Celebrate all you’ve accomplished. Now you’re ready to write your resolutions! What are some of your successes this year?
As Thanksgiving approaches, thoughts turn to gratitude. For some, it’s the once-a-year holiday ritual around the dinner table as each person proclaims what they’re most thankful for. Family. Health. My job. This meal.
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude throughout the year, however, is nothing short of transformative. That’s because of the universal law that states: What you focus on expands. In other words, what you appreciate appreciates. And, where attention goes, energy flows.
Here are three ways to demonstrate the power of gratitude every day.
1) Feeling fearful? Who isn’t these days? The good news is that fear and gratitude cannot coexist. Peak performance expert Tony Robbins promises, “When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” The next time you’re worrying about money, your business or your children, stop and take a moment to count your blessings. One of the best ways to get a good night’s sleep is to write in a gratitude journal before bedtime.”
2) Dealing with challenging relationships? It might be your boss, client, spouse or teenager. For one week, refrain from criticism (what you think, as well as what you say). Instead, focus on the qualities you most appreciate about that person–even if it’s just that they teach you to be more patient. You’ll begin to notice that the energy will shift and the relationship will be more positive and productive.
3) Turbocharge your goals. As you begin to plan for the New Year and list your resolutions, be thankful for what is right now and what will be in anticipation of your success.
When I speak about how raising your vibrations can support your success at work and in life, I often begin with a simple demonstration. I ask for a volunteer from the audience to join me up front and request for that person to smile. Then, I invite the audience to smile, too. “A big bright smile. Stretch those lips. Show those teeth. Don’t forget to breathe!” That always prompts a giggle. “Let’s hold this smile for about 20 seconds.” I encourage them to look around at all those smiling faces. There’s more giggling and laughter. Then, after the allotted time, I tell them they can stop smiling–if they want to.
“What happened? How did you feel?” I ask. The answers are always the same. They felt happier. Simply by faking a smile, you tell your body you are happy and your body responds by releasing feel-good endorphins into your system.
So, smile when you wake up in the morning, as you take your shower, when you’re in rush hour traffic and when you’re on the phone. As you walk into a networking meeting, greet everyone with a big, bright smile and you will attract people to you like a magnet.
Smiling is one of the best ways to raise your joy factor.
Feeling a deep sense of joy and gratitude after visiting the annual World Day of Prayer event on September 9th at Unity North Atlanta Church. The fellowship hall was transformed into a quiet, dimly lit haven with twinkling lights, tabletop fountains and themed alcoves that invited prayers for departed loved ones and pets, those affected by domestic violence, our youth, etc. The highlight for me is always walking the labyrinth in the center of the room. I was amused by my “monkey mind” wondering how long it would take and which way I would turn next until slowly it ceased chattering and I was at peace. Divine!
It’s wise to remember that the same awe-inspiring infinite intelligence of the universe that created us and everything around us is also ready to guide us to our most joyful life. All we have to remember is to ask, listen and trust.
ASK. Pose a question just before meditation, during a quiet walk or as you are falling asleep. It could be as simple as, “What can I do to experience more joy?”
LISTEN. Your guidance may come as a still, small voice in your head, disguised as a friend’s suggestion, as a synchronicity, or perhaps an image.
TRUST. We live in an instant gratification world. You may not receive guidance right away. Be patient. When we let go of the details and the illusion of control, miracles happen. And so it is.