Thursday, August 22, 2013

One Simple Tip to Boost Your Success

“ Success begets success” ~Anonymous

Do you know why “Anonymous” said this? Because any one of us could have said it, we’ve all experienced it. Think about a time when you’ve tried to do something new. If it was hard (success was more difficult), you may have given up, or at least found yourself dreading the idea of doing it again, but if it came easily (success was easier), you may have continued, or at least tried again. Success encourages us. It gives us hope, highlights our accomplishments, and makes us feel capable.

Most definitions of success include the words “prosperity”, “popularity”, “wealth”, and “goals”, however, I think being successful includes far more than having an outcome that involves money or everyone thinking we’re swell. Success moves beyond achieving goals, and into the realm of interaction with others, perception of self, and a life lived with depth and meaning.

Success is so much more than just performance, prosperity, and popularity
I continually assess my success, sometimes haphazardly, and in a few instances, with repeatable certainty. For example, every year, I do a “success inventory”, a process in which I take time to give myself kudos. I do my success inventory on a special day, my birthday. I don’t know about you, but to me, birthdays mean a lot! I love spending time with family and friends and visiting special places. Birthdays also offer a clean slate, a new year, and provide a marvelous opportunity to reflect and grow.

So, as Earth begins its course around the sun again, I take time to reflect on my previous revolution, and set seeds of intention for my annual adventure. Several weeks prior to my birthday I begin asking myself questions to get my brain thinking (check out “One Small Step Can Change YourLife” by Robert Maurer.) I don't’ have to find the answers right away, I just want my brain to chew on the questions for a while, ‘stirring the pot’ so to speak.

I start to think about what I accomplished, where I fell short, the challenges and unexpected opportunities that arose, and whether I reacted or responded to them, and how. I ask myself, “What was the general tone of my year in terms of my emotions”. I consider how my interpersonal relationships played out, where I need to take responsibility, and where I need to let go and not get caught up in drama – even If that drama is only in my head.

On the day of my birthday, I start out by creating sacred space. Whether at home, or a location like the beach or park, I lay out a cloth, using a material I love, select iconic items that have meaning for me, and light a candle. The candle reminds me to bring in the light, positive energy. Often times I will include a natural item such as a flower, leaf, or seashell, something that reminds me of my connection to the world around me.

Rituals support humans in their daily life
Once my sacred space is set, I allow myself to settle, spending time in meditation, either a mindfulness meditation, a guided visualization, or centering prayer. With that done, I begin to free write, allowing myself to remember my year; sometimes I will go month to month from my last birthday, other times I will notice the highlights first. What I’ve found, is that usually, I’ve had an amazingly successful year, not just because I’ve accomplished goals, but because even in my trying, difficult times, I realize that I’ve learned something, or taken away something of value that makes me a better person today. I end my ritual by considering how I would like my next year to flow – I don’t list goals per se, but rather, I set a tone, and come up with words that indicate my intentions.  This year I decided to focus on being joyous, inspired and confident; ultimately with those intentions I will be successful.

By engaging in my annual ritual, I recognize that “success” means so much more than accomplishing a goal, obtaining wealth, or becoming popular – success is a quality, a timber that defines my experiences. To be kind, is to be successful. To be happy, is to be successful. To be connected with others, empathizing, celebrating, contributing, is to be successful. I’ve had a rich and marvelously successful year, and I’ve accomplished quite a bit too!

Practice engaging your inner wisdom:
What does success mean to you? How do you measure your success? Do you engage in a birthday ritual, or other rituals to give yourself credit for your success? Have you ever considered doing a “success inventory” – try them daily, weekly, monthly, or annually – by taking stock of your success, you will bring about more success. 

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Using Inner Wisdom When Plans Go Awry

This isn't a post about making things 'okay' when trouble strikes.  This isn't a post about powering through like a bull in a china shop when things aren't going the way you planned or about collapsing into a a ball on the floor when something creates self-doubt, sorrow, detachment or struggle.

Things aren't always going to go as you want, plan or intend.  But what can you do when those plan go awry?

That question is why this post is about realization, acceptance, and action in the face of any or all of these situations, when, for any variety of reasons, you feel like you're at the end of your rope.

This post is about empowering yourself and feeling confidence in who you are and what you want, even when certain aspects of your vision change for whatever reason.  Sure, it's okay to feel sadness, anger, frustration; all that is part of the human experience, but moving beyond that is the other part of it, the more powerful part (if you let it be), the part that occurs when you engage your inner wisdom to address it.

You can't just use your inner wisdom when things are going well.  In fact, I'd argue that being connected to its strength is even more important when disruption occurs.  Believe me on this one; I've been dealing with two major issues this summer on top of a mountain of ongoing things.  So, how do we rely on our inner wisdom in times of stress, anxiety, self-doubt, frustration, anger, and/or sadness?  When our plans go awry?  How do we engage our inner wisdom to help us move forward?

Everything in your life has the power you assign to it.  No one else can give power to anything in your life.  It's your life and you control the power.  So, why would you give more power to a bad relationship than to a good one?  Why would you allow yourself to feel unworthy or be manipulated?  Why would you not find the good in or learn the lesson of a bad situation?  This is how your inner wisdom helps when plans go awry.

If you spend time engaging your inner wisdom when things are going well, it will be there when things are not going so well.  It is where you will find the strength to get out of a bad relationship, stop allowing yourself to be treated without respect, stand up for injustice, and even process personal tragedy.

Let me give you a simple example.  Two days ago, I saw a little girl who lives on my street; she was crying.  When I asked her what was wrong, she said her brother called her a mean name.  So, I said, "What if I call you a name that isn't mean?  Will that make you stop crying?"

She looked at me confused.

"Well," I went on, "What if I call you pretty?  Does that make you want to cry?"

"No," she fought a smile.

"You are pretty.  You know that right?"

"Yes, but..."

I covered her lips with my finger.  "What if I called you smart?  Everyone on the street always says how smart you are.  Are you smart?"

"Yes," the smile was a little harder to hold back.

"What about the dance you did at the block party?  It was good.  You're a good dancer."

She smiled as she wiped her eyes.

"Now, if you know that you are smart and pretty and a good dancer, why would you let one little thing that your brother said, that isn't true, make you so sad?"

She smiled at me, stood up and went back to playing.

As I said it was a simple example, but doesn't this exemplify many situations?  Just substitute the name she was called (or her brother) for whatever tries to make your plans go awry; then put yourself in her shoes and think about how she handled the situation.

Acknowledge the problem for what it is, but keep the majority of your power focused on the positive aspects of who you are and what your inner wisdom tells you.  That is where you will find the strength to realize, accept, and take action to address the problem.

Remember, your plans may experience setbacks and obstacles, but these troubles can be overcome by trusting and empowering your inner wisdom.  Your inner wisdom would not let you give power to negativity.

Practice Engaging Your Inner Wisdom:  There are many ways you can create reminders for yourself of what your inner wisdom is and how it supports you.  Here are two ideas you can try:

1)  While you're making your plans, make a second list of the attributes you possess that will allow you to accomplish them.  This can include not only things directly related to the plans, but also attributes that make you who you are.

2)  Make a collage following the same idea.  Find images related to your plans and that reflect your personal attributes.  Show how those attributes support your plans.

When something causes those plans to go awry, consult your list or collage and let it help you reconnect or stay connected to your inner wisdom so that you can overcome the issue.