The Difference Between a Victim and a Hero Is…

What are you mastering in your life?
In a recent interview with Miguel Ruiz (author of The Four Agreements), he said that we are all masters. It’s really just a question of WHAT we are mastering.

Are you mastering stress or peace?
Are you mastering procrastination or deliberate action?
Are you mastering fear or love?
What are you the master of in your life?

Whatever you practice enough, you master. And in that way, your life becomes a masterpiece. Is it a beautiful, harmonious masterpiece? Or is it chaotic and ugly?

Another way to say it is that you are the AUTHOR of the story of your life. What kind of story are you writing?

You could write the hero’s story of overcoming challenges and controlling your destiny. Or you could write the victim’s story of always feeling overwhelmed and powerless to choose your path in life.

Neither is more accurate than the other because no matter how much evidence you accumulate to support a given story, it’s only a story ABOUT life; it’s not life itself.

“We live in a fog that is not even real,” writes Don Miguel Ruiz. “This fog is a dream, your personal dream of life–what you believe, all the concepts you have about what you are, all the agreements you have made with others.”

According to Ruiz, dreaming is what we do as humans. The goal is to free ourselves from the “dream of hell” and to create our own “personal dream of heaven,” to write a beautiful and empowering life story. Dream masters, he tells us, “control the dream by making choices.”

Your life is your creation, built out of those things you choose to practice and master. What do YOU choose to master?

I invite you to respond to this post and share with me what you’ve been choosing to master and what kind of life that’s been creating for you. Look at the full spectrum of what’s been working well for you and what hasn’t. And what could you begin to practice that would serve you even more?

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Using SMART Goals in a Whole New Way for 2012

2012 is quickly coming upon us and it is time to start thinking about the goals we want to accomplish for the year.

Goals are valuable for keeping us focused on our dreams in life.  I coach my clients on creating and achieving SMART goals, however, I change the SMART acronym up a bit to make sure the goals are really aligned with their dreams.  When we get to the ‘A’, I use the word: ‘accountable’ instead of ‘achievable’ or ‘attainable’.  It’s useful to have an accountability partner who helps you stay focused and in action around achieving your goal.  Your accountability partner can be a friend, a family member, or a coach.  Remember, accountability is not about getting scolded or punished when you don’t succeed.  Instead, it’s about having a person who helps you stay focused and in choice around your actions.

To me, the ‘R’ in SMART stands for ‘resonant’ versus ‘realistic’.  Resonant goals are so compelling that it’s hard not to work on them, they become a part your life and are what keep you going when things get tough.  When setting a goal, ask yourself, is this goal something you truly desire?  Will working to achieve it walk you towards fulfilling your dreams? Noticing whether your goal has resonance or not will help you spot the “shoulds”.  “Shoulds” do not belong in SMART goals.

Finally, the clincher for a goal that will propel you to your dreams is that is has to be ‘thrilling’!  Setting goals that are reasonable or realistic may make them more achievable, but they probably won’t help you grow. When you set a goal that makes you stretch, you grow as a person into who you need to be to accomplish your dreams.  This kind of thrill will help carry you through the scary parts when you don’t have a clue how you are going to accomplish what you have set out to do!

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How Much Do You Play at Work?

How much fun are you having at work?  As I am writing this blog, I have one cat curled up on my lap and another curled up right beside my laptop.  I’m having a blast!  To me, my work is play.  Not everyone feels this way though.

 I realized that there’s this whole idea of hard work and struggle in our culture and so many of us are really STUCK in it. It causes us all sorts of problems in every area of our lives. It’s this idea that we need to work harder and harder to get what we want. It’s ironic: we want to be true to ourselves, and go for what we want, but the only way to get there seems to be a lot of hard work that disconnects us from what really matters. We try harder and harder and exhaust ourselves and we end up even further from what we want. We even think we have to punish ourselves to create anything of value. I see this pain all around me.

 I recognized that I’m more aligned with this idea of “effortless effort,” where the effort expended is natural, joyful, playful, and connected with the flow of life. We can put that kind of effortless effort into what we love, and never once does it feel hard. Never once does it feel like work. We’re just doing it because that’s who we are. That’s what we love and that’s what fulfills us. This may sometimes look like hard work to others, and they may marvel that they never once hear us grumble, but to us it’s more like play. We’re actually drawing on an infinite supply of energy that replenishes itself almost magically rather than wearing us out.

 There are days when I work long hours, and I end the day feeling fulfilled and complete.  To me, that wasn’t work; that was play. As Mary Anne Radmacher said, “My work is my play, my play is my work, and all of it is prayer.”

 If work feels like work to you, what do you need to let go of that is keeping you from connecting with what really matters?  What do you need to do to let go of the distinction between work and play and just LIVE?

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What Do You Want in Life?

If you were to live your ultimate life, what would it look like?  What would you be doing?  Who would surround you?  What kind of contribution would you be making to the world?

These are all questions we should be asking ourselves to help guide us to getting what we want in life.  One of the best guides to getting your ultimate life is defining your life purpose.   Your life purpose is your essence in this world.  It is what brings you joy and fulfillment.  So what is your purpose in life?  What is it that you were meant to do in life?  What are you here to teach the rest of the world?

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” —Patanjali

Once you have created your life purpose, it will become your guide to living your ultimate life.  Your purpose in life will show you how you can help others and become a significant contributor to their lives.  When you focus on being a significant contributor to people, then you will automatically get what you want and you will be able to live your ultimate life.

Let your life purpose be your guide to a happier, richer and more fulfilling life.

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Intentional Leadership

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.  Today I choose to come from my authentic self.  Today I choose to face my fears head on, knowing full well I am in over my head.  Today I choose to ask for help because I know I cannot do it alone.

I have set my intentions for the day.  No matter what happens, I know I will come back to how I want to be today and I will learn a lot about myself in the process.  I am committed to figuring out what needs to happen and giving myself full permission to do it and then stick around for the impact.  I don’t always know what the consequences are going to be of my actions, but I do know that I can acknowledge them and create from there.

To me, this is the essence of leadership.   Setting your intentions for how you want to be, giving yourself full permission to do what needs to be done in the world and staying in the moment to see what comes up and what else is needed as you create what you are meant to create in the world.

How do you want to be in your life as a leader?

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