Archive for April, 2009

WHO IS YOUR WORST CRITIC?

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Many years ago, I had one of those experiences that you never forget. It shows up in so many areas of my life. In my previous life, I was a trial lawyer for 30 years and have been a musician since I was seven. Most people would say I am very comfortable in front of people. But even now, whenever I’m in front of people, there is an inner conversation going on that I do not want to have. It is always a variation of “can I do it” or “will it be good enough.”

This experience occurred when I participated in a weekend workshop designed to increase one’s ability to give better presentations sponsored by the Actors Institute. The participants included actors, musicians, comedians, lawyers and politicians.

After a long weekend of exercises designed to “stretch” us we were required to give our presentation. We then critiqued our own and each other’s performance. Without exception, our critique of our own presentation was much harsher than the groups. The instructor commented that if we had to hire ourselves we would never get a job!

We are so hard on ourselves. The truth is, in the process of trying to be perfect, we often focus on our imperfections and sometimes that is all we see. Because of this fear of being imperfect, we procrastinate and agonize over seemingly easy tasks. My wife Annie reminded me of a story that illustrates this point.

The master lived quite a distance from the stream. Every day his servant, the water bearer, would walk from his master’s house to the stream with two large pots, each hung on opposite ends of a pole which he carried across his neck. One pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the walk, while the other pot had a crack in it and arrived only half full.

This went on for a full two years and the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, but the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfections and of the fact that it was only able to accomplish half of what it had been made to do.

Finally the cracked pot summoned up enough courage to have its own conversation with the water bearer. It went something like this. “I am ashamed and I want to apologize to you for I have let you down. Because of my flaws you have had to do twice as much work.” But the water bearer would have nothing of this conversation. “Did you notice the beautiful wild flowers along the path and did you notice that these beautiful flowers were only on your side of the path?” That’s because I have always known of your flaws and I took advantage of them and planted flower seeds on your side of the path and every day you watered them. And these beautiful flowers that you have watered everyday grace the master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

Each of us has our own unique flaws and in our own way we are all cracked pots. With all our imperfections we still create beauty and good in the world. Perhaps what real courage is all about is not letting our fears and imperfections stop us. Instead of procrastinating we confidently take the next step.

You might want to take some time to journal or just sit as you reflect upon the following inquiry. Imagine experiencing your imperfections in a different way– as gifts or unique opportunities. Identify an imperfection in your life that gets more attention than it deserves and discover what gift is hidden in that imperfection. From this new vantage point imagine what could be possible?

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. mark@inspirepossibility.com 415.453.5016

Embracing Change

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

We all have a unique way of communicating our story, a way that reflects our life experiences. The photographer uses a camera, the artist a brush, and the musician a melody or rhythm. As the years go by our story changes and there is more to tell. We look through a different filter, paint with a different color, sing a different song or feel a different rhythm.

When you have kids, you are reminded that graduations are a time for transition. In some ways we are always transitioning from one phase to another. We are presented with new challenges and opportunities and a new way to look at things.

It seems that in our family there is always a graduation. With one ear I listen to what the various speakers have to say. I think about how rapidly my children have changed and how I have had to let go of some of my expectations in order to stay connected to them.

As I eagerly awaited the moment of my son’s graduation, still just “listening with one ear,” the valedictorian read an inspiring poem and a few students performed original inspirational songs for the occasion. And then the principal addressed the students and their families. She made reference to Spencer Johnson’s classic parable about change, “Who Moved My Cheese.”

It is a paradox of life that while our children change rapidly, we as adults try to put the brakes on the speed of change. We like to think to some degree we are in control of our life by holding on to what we’re used too.

“No,” Hem quickly responded. “I like it here. It’s comfortable. It’s what I know. Besides it’s dangerous out there.”
Johnson, Spencer “Who Moved My Cheese?”

Just like Hem we all live in our comfort zone. It’s what we know. During many periods of my life I’ve become attached to the way things are, resisting the change that might bring it to an end. Eventually it does end. And then I’m faced with a choice. Either be unhappy or adjust to the new phase which was not necessarily what I was expecting. Through the years I’ve learned how to let go and trust that the changes that I experience in this new phase will be exciting, vibrant and full of new challenges. This letting go offers me a new way to look at life… a life in which everyday is new.

Haw said, ”Sometimes, Hem, things change and they are never the same again. This looks like one of those times. That’s life! Life moves on. And so should we.”
Johnson, Spencer. “Who Moved My Cheese?”

Nature has always been one of my most important teachers. Just look at nature’s cycles. Trees bud in the spring and by summer they are full of delicious fruit. In the Autumn, the leaves with their vibrant colors fall from the trees wistfully to the ground. By the time winter arrives most of the trees are barren and the cycle begins anew. You know for certain there’s an intelligence in nature’s way of doing things.

What if we looked at our lives in this way? We know it will be colder in the winter and warmer in the summer, so we dress accordingly. We don’t resist the cycles of nature, so why should we resist the cycles of our lives?

Now, here’s the good part. Since change is coming, we have a golden opportunity. Enjoy the moments fully when things are going well but don’t be attached to them. Be grateful for these moments and cherish them. When things aren’t going so well and you feel discouraged, see your circumstances as temporary just like the wind. Too often, when we are having a hard time, we think it will be forever. As the winds change, you can look forward to a better future. It could happen in a hearbeat. By embracing change as a way of life, you can look forward to change as opportunity, as adventure, as possibility.

It is essential that you have the tools to prepare yourself for this new way of thinking. There’s an increasing awareness of teachings from all walks of life that encourage us to be more open and flexible. As you look inward and take time for reflection through meditation and prayer you become more accepting of our differences and unique rhythms. As you continue on the journey you learn how to embrace change as a way of life.

JOURNEY ON AND DON’T FORGET TO SMILE AND LAUGH A LITTLE BIT MORE THAN YESTERDAY

MARK

Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. mark@inspirepossibility.com 415.453.5016

We are so Hard on Ourselves

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Many years ago, I had one of those experiences that you never forget. It shows up in so many areas of my life. In my previous life, I was a trial lawyer for 30 years and have been a musician since I was seven. Most people would say I am very comfortable in front of people. But even now, whenever I’m in front of people, there is an inner conversation going on that I do not want to have. It is always a variation of “can I do it” or “will it be good enough.”

This experience occurred when I participated in a weekend workshop designed to increase one’s ability to give better presentations sponsored by the Actors Institute. The participants included actors, musicians, comedians, lawyers and politicians.

After a long weekend of exercises designed to “stretch” us we were required to give our presentation. We then critiqued our own and each other’s performance. Without exception, our critique of our own presentation was much harsher than the groups. The instructor commented that if we had to hire ourselves we would never get a job!

We are so hard on ourselves. The truth is, in the process of trying to be perfect, we often focus on our imperfections and sometimes that is all we see. Because of this fear of being imperfect, we procrastinate and agonize over seemingly easy tasks. My wife Annie reminded me of a story that illustrates this point.

The master lived quite a distance from the stream. Every day his servant, the water bearer, would walk from his master’s house to the stream with two large pots, each hung on opposite ends of a pole which he carried across his neck. One pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the walk, while the other pot had a crack in it and arrived only half full.

This went on for a full two years and the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, but the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfections and of the fact that it was only able to accomplish half of what it had been made to do.

Finally the cracked pot summoned up enough courage to have its own conversation with the water bearer. It went something like this. “I am ashamed and I want to apologize to you for I have let you down. Because of my flaws you have had to do twice as much work.” But the water bearer would have nothing of this conversation. “Did you notice the beautiful wild flowers along the path and did you notice that these beautiful flowers were only on your side of the path?” That’s because I have always known of your flaws and I took advantage of them and planted flower seeds on your side of the path and every day you watered them. And these beautiful flowers that you have watered everyday grace the master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

Each of us has our own unique flaws and in our own way we are all cracked pots. With all our imperfections we still create beauty and good in the world. Perhaps what real courage is all about is not letting our fears and imperfections stop us. Instead of procrastinating we confidently take the next step.

You might want to take some time to journal or just sit as you reflect upon the following inquiry. Imagine experiencing your imperfections in a different way– as gifts or unique opportunities. Identify an imperfection in your life that gets more attention than it deserves and discover what gift is hidden in that imperfection. From this new vantage point imagine what could be possible? What is it that you discover?

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. mark@inspirepossibility.com 415.453.5016

BE WILLING TO GO DOWN A NEW PATH

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Do you sometimes feel like you are stuck in your life? It might be a dead-end career or a relationship that has run its course. But rather than making a change, you hang in there, hoping it will get better. You have become more comfortable staying in what’s not working, than exploring the unknown. It’s the fear of the unknown that keeps us stuck in our life. You are not alone.

That’s the way it is with many of the clients who I work with in life coaching. They hope things will get better, so they’re willing to tolerate what’s not working, rather than making a change. They have lost that sense of a life that can be exciting again. Because they are so wrapped up in the struggle of making it, they lost that inner sense of joy and wonder. They would love to be excited about their life again, but are reluctant to make the changes that need to be made.

They hope that something will miraculously change that will inspire them. But it won’t until they are willing to embrace the unknown and embark upon a new path. it’s the willingness to go down that path that you haven’t gone down before…. so that you become an explorer again.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. 415.453.5016 http://www.inspirepossibility.com

The key to being true to your values

Friday, April 10th, 2009

One of the biggest challenges that we face in this busy world is how to live our life in harmony with our deepest values. Discovering what these values and priorities are, is the first phase of a six step process that I take my life coaching clients through.

In the second phase, which may be the most difficult, we work on establishing clear boundaries, which requires you to say “no.” For many people, this is one of the most difficult words to say. Whether it’s in a personal relationship or in the workplace many are fearful of the repercussions if they say ”no,” and or reluctant to disappoint another.

But think of the alternatives, by acquiescing, you end up agreeing to live someone else’s life and resenting it. To put it another way, setting clear boundaries is about reclaiming your life and reclaiming your power.

For example, many busy clients that I work with in coaching want to have a relationship, but forget to ask themselves if they are willing to devote the time necessary to have one. If they really want the relationship, then they have to say “no” to other things. It might be saying “no” to working late. How many people do you know who are workaholics? I’ve known more than a few that have sacrificed their relationship for careers. They didn’t have their priorities straight. I remember one client in particular, let’s call him Joe, who worked all the time even though his wife complained about it. When I asked Joe what he would do if his wife left him because he wasn’t emotionally available, he told me that it would never happen. Well Joe was wrong. She left and Joe did everything he could to try to repair the relationship but it was too late.

My friend, Betty, who has a masters degree in social work, values her free time. She said “no” to time consuming career advancements, so that she could have more leisure time.

When I was much younger and just out of school I wanted to keep developing my musicality, which was a passion of mine. Even when I was a busy lawyer I always made time to study and to play music. To make it happen I had to say “no” to many other things but it was worth it. When looking back I realize that what I said “no” to wasn’t actually that important.

When you reclaim your life you find out that you have more empowering choices than you realize. As you reclaim your power you live your life from choice rather than fear. Here are a few suggestions to help you with this inquiry.

• Begin your day with meditation.
• Take some time to read a spiritual or personal growth book.
• Take some time to commune in nature.
• Eat healthy and exercise.
• Don’t forget to take a deep breath and smile!

Living a life in balance takes resourcefulness and commitment. The good news is, as time goes on, it gets easier. It’s an exciting journey with new opportunities being presented constantly.

JOURNEY ON

MARK
Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. 415.453.5016 http://www.inspirepossibility.com

What are you resisting in your life?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

In a life coaching session yesterday with let’s call her Carol we had an interesting discussion about how resistance shows up in her life.

The challenge is that resistance has many disguises, many of which we don’t recognize. There is the obvious—“avoidance.” If we are honest with ourselves, we usually are able to notice this tendency. There’s “procrastination” which is a form of avoidance.

But I’m talking about a different type of resistance–a resistance that is unconscious. It’s a resistance that prevents us from being fully present. It might show when we are a little tired and we miss what is being said or is happening in the moment…or it might show up when our mind thinks about something other than what we are doing in the moment….we’re talking with someone and we are thinking about what we have to do later. That’s the classic situation that we all find ourselves in from time to time. We’re not fully present with life.

It’s these unconscious patterns that run our lives. We also have resistance to change. Why? Because of our fear of the unknown. For example…let’s say we are stuck in a dead-end career, but it provides us financial security. If we were guaranteed a better situation, we wouldn’t hesitate to leave….it takes courage to make the changes that we need to make in our lives and face the unknown. It’s facing the unknown that is our ticket to personal freedom. In the meantime…smile and laugh a little bit more than yesterday.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. 415.453.5016 http://www.inspirepossibility.com

Flexible body….flexible mind

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

I just got back from my chiropractor’s office. For a long time he had been telling me that his role was to help me maintain my spinal health…that because of my age there was a stiffness that I would have to live with and as long as I wasn’t in pain there was nothing to worry about.

I have also been doing yoga for many years. Yoga has given me hope that as I age rather than becoming stiffer and less able to engage in activities, I would become more flexible and be more active no matter how old I was. And I do notice a difference. I’m more flexible than I have ever been and with each year I become more flexible.

So I have to admit that the chiropractors past prognosis was disappointing.

However today he said that he has been noticing that my spine is more flexible than its ever been and that he should have recognized what was possible with a commitment to a regular yoga practice. He said that my progress was an inspiration to him and that I have been actually reversing the aging process.

It reinforces my commitment to a regular practice. Self care is a path not a solution. It’s an evolutionary process. It’s never too late to begin the journey. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

Smile and don’t forget to laugh a little bit more than yesterday.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. 415.453.5016 http://www.inspirepossibility.com

IT’S OUR TIME

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

I had the privilege to visit the site of a project that one of my life coaching clients,our good friend Les, an architect, was designing. It was a fabulous project with incredible views of the reservoir and the ocean. The hacienda style house was almost built. The finishing touches will be complete within the month.

I would describe it as simple elegance. It blended in perfectly with the lay of the land. Our possible view was maximized and as you walked around there was a organic feeling that gave you the feeling that you were home. This was a plum job…perhaps one the most idyllic jobs in the county. And Les was the architect…this wasn’t the only plum that was coming Les’s way.

Yet Les didn’t see himself in that light. Les downplays his accomplishments, so much so that he doesn’t see himself on the same level as some of the other architects who are his competitors.

I suggested to Les that he begin to see himself as a star (or any adjective that would empower him)…to realize that this is his time to shine and that the universe has recognized his greatness before he has.

That’s the way it is for many of us….we are our own worse critic…we would never talk to a friend the way we talk to ourself.

So that’s why I suggested to Les to see himself as a star…he doesn’t have to concern himself with thinking that he might be boastful. No one will ever think of him in those terms. For Les a little more ego can go a long way. For many others that’s not the case.

Like many of us, Les has arrived. It’s our time. Our star is shining bright. All we need to do is say to ourself…thankyou…thankyou and to enjoy the journey. And don’t forget to smile and laugh a little bit more than yesterday.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. 415.453.5016 http://www.inspirepossibility.com

YOU ARE THE GIFT

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

When I talked with Brian in our life coaching session yesterday he was concerned about going to a gathering that his wife suggested. He wondered what he would talk about. Brian is like many people that I know and I include myself in this group that question whether what they have to say is significant. You think that whatever you say has been said a hundred times…

So you keep your thought to yourself…it remains your secret…You don’t communicate that beautiful thought that is buried deep in your mind and never give it an opportunity to come to the surface. And so it goes. After a while you find that you seem isolated. You feel like you don’t have any good friends. And with the friends you do have you are questioning the value of the friendship.

You can easily change this. It’s easier than you think. Out of your willingness to communicate, the fog lifts and that pearl of wisdom floats from the source of pure thought to your conscious mind and its expression is communicated in some for whether it a conversation, a writing, a song, or a smile.

You make your contribution to the world in this way. Your being present has significance and is a gift. Thanks for contributing..By ‘you being you,’ you make a difference in the world. There are more people waiting for you than you realize.

Don’t forget to smile and laugh a little bit more than yesterday and JOURNEY ON

MARK

Throughout his life, Mark has always made a practice of taking a leap of faith whenever he heard the call for something more. His life has been an unfolding journey of discovery. A former trial attorney for 30 years and musician, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. Whether coaching one-on-one, speaking to groups, or leading a retreat, he shares his message that regardless of our life’s circumstances, we can find more joy and meaning in our life. He is a sought after speaker and coauthor along with Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy and other experts in the book 101 Great Ways to Improve your Life. Mark’s new book, Dancing on the River…Finding Joy and Meaning in the Midst of Change. 415.453.5016 http://www.inspirepossibility.com


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