inspiration

Stories we tell Ourselves

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Do you remember your kindergarten teacher? I don’t remember much about mine, except her name and the stories she told. Since then I’ve had many more teachers and mentors who have all contributed to who I am today. We learn from all of our experiences and from everyone we meet, some more significant than others.

Although we don’t always remember their name, we usually remember the story they told us. When you are a writer, you’re always looking for that story or insight to share. It’s a gift when you hear such a story. So it was with delight when my youngest daughter, Savanna, was visiting last week and I experienced such a moment.

As our conversation evolved she shared the following story that speaks for itself. Like life, there are many variations of the story—stories that have the power to shape our life. The most powerful being the ones we tell ourselves.

A son and his father were walking on the mountains. 
Suddenly, the son falls, hurts himself and screams:
“AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!”
To his surprise, he hears the voice repeating,
 somewhere in the mountain: “AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!”

Curious, he yells: “Who are you?” 
He receives the answer: “Who are you?”

Angered at the response, he screams: “Coward!” 
He receives the answer: “Coward!”

He looks to his father and asks: “What’s going on?”
 The father smiles and says: “My son, pay attention.”

And then he screams to the mountain: “I admire you!”
The voice answers: “I admire you!”

Again the man screams: “You are a champion!”
The voice answers: “You are a champion!”

The boy is surprised, but does not understand.
 Then the father explains: “People call this ECHO, 
but really this is LIFE. It gives you back everything you say or do.”

Our life is simply a reflection of our actions and what we tell ourselves.If you want more love, create more love in your heart.
If you want more competence in your career, improve your competence. This relationship applies to all aspects of life.
It gives you back what you think and believe. It gives you back everything you have given to it.

YOUR LIFE IS NOT A COINCIDENCE. IT’S A REFLECTION OF YOU!

As I shared with you in the beginning, quite often we don’t remember the name of the person who tells us the story, even though we remember the story. Savanna and I attempted to determine who wrote this one. We searched the internet (I sure wished we had it when I was in college) and found the story, but the author was unknown. Whoever he or she is, we want to thank them from the bottom of our heart for the gift of their wisdom.

Life is for giving, loving, teaching, learning and sharing all we are and will ever be; our joys, our sorrows, our triumphs and our disappointments. And of course, our smiles.

As the father in the story reminds us, what we tell ourselves becomes our story. Sometimes the story gets old. If you don’t like it, create a more empowering one.

You know that I love to hear from you. What is the story you have been telling yourself?

“What a worthy adventure we are on. Our job is to enjoy it, to be ethical and to live life fully.”

Journey On

Mark

Please join me with my cohost Ralph Marston on the Journey On radio show. blogtalkradio.com/journeyon

Mark Susnow knows change. He is an executive-life coach, life-discovery guide and recognized thought leader who inspires others to believe in themselves. He is passionate about life being an exciting journey of discovery. His enthusiastic and inspiring keynotes on change, leadership and connection thoroughly convey this message to his audiences. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. In his prior career, he was covered by the NY Times, Boston Globe, and Rolling Stone Magazine. He is the author of Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes and Discover the Leader Within.

You’re an Amazing Person

Monday, June 30th, 2014

How do you answer the question, Life is? What if, when you awake in the morning, you say to yourself, “My life is amazing.” What then? How would you experience your life? I’m sure you would start to experience your life in a much more amazing and exciting way. For various reasons, very few of us say this to ourselves or dare to think in this way. Our focus might be on other things, or on our struggles. Then that’s all we see. But you have the power to change it.

When you think about it, we have all experienced some amazing moments; those amazing sunsets and sunrises. Those amazing waterfalls and breathtaking canyons. I’m sure you have your own amazing list but quite often it’s on the back burner.

It’s time to expand your vocabulary. We all have something unique and amazing to offer. For a second, imagine someone describing you as an amazing person. How would it feel? Could you get used to it?

Let’s try something. Write down on a nice piece of paper the following: (Your Name) is an amazing person! Every morning look at it and repeat it three times out loud. Don’t just do once. For a month, integrate this practice into your life.

“What a worthy adventure we are on. Our job is to enjoy it, to be ethical and to live life fully.”

Journey On

Mark

Please join me with my cohost Ralph Marston on the Journey On radio show. blogtalkradio.com/journeyon

Mark Susnow knows change. He is an executive-life coach, life-discovery guide and recognized thought leader who inspires others to believe in themselves. He is passionate about life being an exciting journey of discovery. His enthusiastic and inspiring keynotes on change, leadership and connection thoroughly convey this message to his audiences. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. In his prior career, he was covered by the NY Times, Boston Globe, and Rolling Stone Magazine. He is the author of Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes and Discover the Leader Within.

If Not Now—When

Friday, June 20th, 2014

It wasn’t the first time. I went with it and discovered an unexpected gift. When Dancing on the River was first published, the interviewer had difficulty pronouncing my name correctly. Finally I said Sus-NOW as in NOW is the time to enjoy life and to live life fully.

As we know, this quest is a lot easier said than done, but certainly one worthy of our best efforts.

Many of us let the circumstances of our life affect how we feel which I refer to as the only if syndrome. If only the circumstances of my life were different I would be happy. I’m sure you have had symptoms like this at times. I know I have.

As a result we put off our happiness until another day. Usually when there is a resolution of our circumstances we do feel better, but only for a short while until the next cycle begins anew. We again fall into the if only trap which affects almost every aspect of our lives.

We especially see it in the workplace and or in relationships. If we are out of work, or business is slow, our mindset is that we can’t be happy until the circumstances change. Or if our primary relationships are out of kilter, our mindset is that we can’t be happy until we have more clarity or resolution of the relationship.

We continue to live for the future, rather than for today, waiting for the circumstances of our lives to be in perfect alignment. “Ah, then I can be happy again,” we think to ourselves again and again.

The good news is that you can again be happy and excited about your life. Researchers at UC Davis have determined that people who practice gratitude on a daily basis not only are happier, but they experience less stress.

This daily practice shifts your focus from what you don’t have and what you don’t like about your life, to what you do have and what is right about your life.

Practicing gratitude each and every day has had a profound effect upon my life. This practice shifts your focus from what you don’t have and what you don’t like about your life, to what you do have and what is right about your life. As we know from being on this adventure together what we focus on expands. When we focus on our lack, we create more of it. When we focus on our good, we create more of that. If you want to be optimistic, then express gratitude for your optimism. If you want to create more of an open-hearted attitude, then express gratitude for your open-heartedness.

The second technique you may not have tried yet. Hopefully it will be embedded into your daily routine soon enough as it has the potential to transform your life. In the morning after you have taken time for quiet reflection and your gratitude practice, ask yourself the following empowering question: I wonder what the highlight of my day might be. This creates an expectation of good. As your day progresses, you’re curious as to what that highlight might be.

You can use variations of this inquiry in numerous settings, even ones that at first glance might seem unpleasant. Often at meetings, or other gatherings, rather than thinking about might go wrong, I shift my focus to who I’ll have the best connection with. It’s amazing what happens.
The highlight might be a smile while you are waiting in line at the bank or the grocery store. It might be a thank-you from someone. Hopefully, by the end of the day, you won’t be able to make up your mind as to what the highlight was because you’ll have two or three great choices. Perhaps you discover the gift that has always been there.

This shift hasn’t occurred over night but looking back it’s been dramatic. Perhaps you’re thinking that now isn’t the right time. Actually there is no better time than now. In fact now is the only time. Enjoy it! You’ve waited long enough. Tomorrow has a way of taking care of itself.

“What a worthy adventure we are on. Our job is to enjoy it, to be ethical and to live life fully.”

Journey On

Mark

Please join me with my cohost Ralph Marston on the Journey On radio show. blogtalkradio.com/journeyon

Mark Susnow knows change. He is an executive-life coach, life-discovery guide and recognized thought leader who inspires others to believe in themselves. He is passionate about life being an exciting journey of discovery. His enthusiastic and inspiring keynotes on change, leadership and connection thoroughly convey this message to his audiences. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. In his prior career, he was covered by the NY Times, Boston Globe, and Rolling Stone Magazine. He is the author of Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes and Discover the Leader Within.

Set a New Standard

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

It’s time to move forward. Most of us, if not all of us, would like to be more successful but we struggle with what exactly success means to us. What contributes to this struggle is that we usually define success by someone else’s standards or our own stricter standards. And usually we are our own worse critics. I struggled with this mindset for years. No matter what I did, I didn’t consider myself successful—there was always the, “Yea, but look at what they did. I’ll never be as good as them.”

Within each of us is the key to success, which is our attitude about how we see ourselves.

IF we are always trying to live up to some external standard we’re always going to find it difficult to be satisfied. There are many great people in this world that can do some things better than us. Yet when we look at ourselves and explore our own unique greatness, we find that there are some things we can do better than them.

If you wish to be successful, then think of yourself in that way. Focus on your gifts and unique talents. You are already successful. You have unique gifts and talents. Share these gifts and talents with others.

“What a worthy adventure we are on. Our job is to enjoy it, to be ethical and to live life fully.”

Journey On

Mark

Please join me with my cohost Ralph Marston on the Journey On radio show. blogtalkradio.com/journeyon

Mark Susnow knows change. He is an executive-life coach, life-discovery guide and recognized thought leader who inspires others to believe in themselves. He is passionate about life being an exciting journey of discovery. His enthusiastic and inspiring keynotes on change, leadership and connection thoroughly convey this message to his audiences. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. In his prior career, he was covered by the NY Times, Boston Globe, and Rolling Stone Magazine. He is the author of Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes and Discover the Leader Within.

Do you Make Things more Difficult than they Need to be?

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Wouldn’t it be great if our biggest challenge is to decide what we want for our lives and in this moment. In some ways choosing what we want for our lives is easier. When we’re thinking about what we want in this moment, we have a myriad of choices, although it might not seem that way at the time. How we make decisions is an interesting exploration.

Let’s face it. We even make choosing a movie into a big deal. Perhaps you’re home in the mood for a movie. But what movie? At first you search the free menu. Then you search for the movies that are more current, most of which you have to pay a small fee. So you go thru the process. Perhaps you finally select a movie. Or perhaps you can’t make a decision and decide to do something else. This little example is a microcosm of how we make decisions in our life. We go through a process of weighing the pros and cons. Some of us might have a mindset that if its free, it’s not worth investing the time to watch it. It’s already been done. We want something more current. The bigger question is: “What is our criterion for which we give value to things.

If something comes easy to us, do we take it for granite and not value it as much. Quite often that is what happens with some of our most primary relationships. We take them for granite and don’t give them the attention they need. We have adopted the belief that if something seems too easy, we don’t value it as much. We’re already looking in a different direction, looking for our next challenge.

It’s time to adopt a new mindset. It can be easy and have great value.

Journey On

Mark

Please join me with my cohost Ralph Marston on the Journey On radio show. blogtalkradio.com/journeyon

Mark Susnow knows change. He is an executive-life coach, life-discovery guide and recognized thought leader who inspires others to believe in themselves. He is passionate about life being an exciting journey of discovery. His enthusiastic and inspiring keynotes on change, leadership and connection thoroughly convey this message to his audiences. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. In his prior career, he was covered by the NY Times, Boston Globe, and Rolling Stone Magazine. He is the author of Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes and Discover the Leader Within.

The Key Ingredient

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Many of us forget what it takes to be successful. Yes it takes hard work, commitment and persistence. Most successful people have on more than a few occasions thought about giving up. But they kept at it and moved forward. It’s like climbing a mountain. In the beginning of the climb the task can seem challenging. With every step forward we get closer to our goal.

Achieving goals is like that. We sometimes get caught up in the obstacles and lose sight of where we want to go There is that half way point, when we say to ourselves, “I’m going to make it.” We know we can do it. From that point on, the challenges no longer seem like challenges, just part of the terrain——we let go of our resistance and move forward with the wind at our back. We allow ourselves to get excited.

Thinking of ourselves as persistent isn’t the most exciting description of ourselves. Yet when you have mastered that quality, you have an amazing power that enables you to do almost anything. One of my coaching clients is a triathlete. The persistence that she demonstrates during training gives her a sense of power than transcends any limitation that might show up in other areas of her life.

Seize the power. Be persistent.

Journey On

Mark

Please join me with my cohost Ralph Marston on the Journey On radio show. blogtalkradio.com/journeyon

Mark Susnow knows change. He is an executive-life coach, life-discovery guide and recognized thought leader who inspires others to believe in themselves. He is passionate about life being an exciting journey of discovery. His enthusiastic and inspiring keynotes on change, leadership and connection thoroughly convey this message to his audiences. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. In his prior career, he was covered by the NY Times, Boston Globe, and Rolling Stone Magazine. He is the author of Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes and Discover the Leader Within.

Rekindle the Dream

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

You’re thinking of all of the things you have to do. And for a while that’s all you are doing——thinking rather than doing. Quite often, you exaggerate the complexity of what it is you have to do. If you actually sat down and began working on your project you could get it done even though you are not sure where to begin. But you begin, by beginning. For example until I sat down and started writing this blog I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. I wasn’t sure where I was going. Now that I am actually doing it I see a direction.

And that’s the way it is with many things in life. Until you actually begin the journey you won’t know where the path that leads you to the magic garden will be. You might not even realize that there is such a path. It’s amazing once you begin, the possibilities that exist.

As you become more present to what’s in front of you and all around you, you will be better able to recognize the opportunities that are presented to you.

Sometimes it’s a matter of creating your own path. Be the innovator and be willing to think out of the box. Becoming a master thinker and creator is a great asset. But you also have to take action.

So here’s your part. Be bold. You once had a dream for you life. What is that dream that you have put on the back burner. After you have identified that dream that’s been on the back burner, what is one action step you can take that help you realize your dream or at least move you in the right direction? When will you take that step? And who is going to hold you accountable for moving forward?
What a worthy adventure we are on. Our job is to enjoy it, to be ethical and to live life fully.

Journey On

Mark

Please join me with my cohost Ralph Marston on the Journey On radio show. blogtalkradio.com/journeyon

Mark Susnow knows change. He is an executive-life coach, life-discovery guide and recognized thought leader who inspires others to believe in themselves. He is passionate about life being an exciting journey of discovery. His enthusiastic and inspiring keynotes on change, leadership and connection thoroughly convey this message to his audiences. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. In his prior career, he was covered by the NY Times, Boston Globe, and Rolling Stone Magazine. He is the author of Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes and Discover the Leader Within.

The Challenge of the Times

Friday, April 4th, 2014

The world is changing faster than it has ever before. It’s challenging to keep up with the latest. Our greater dependency on technology fuels this trend. We know what the advantages to technology are. We have more opportunities and greater conveniences than we have ever had before. The advances in health care are enormous and the promise of the future is encouraging but the challenges are increasing.

The first challenge is how to wed our greater dependency on technology with our sense of self. Technology gives us the opportunity to connect with almost anyone anywhere, which leads to the concern that if we are not in instant communication we might miss out on something.—that text or call that pertains to a different reality than the one we are engaged with at the present moment.

As soon as we see or hear a signal that we have an incoming message, we interrupt what we are doing to notice the nature of that incoming message. Very rarely is it something important that has to be handled in the moment.

We pay a price for these distractions. In the process we lose our ability to really get into something and know it well. Rather than being in the moment with what we are doing, we are already thinking about something else. Is that something else more important than what we are doing now or the conversation we are having with someone else. Our minds are constantly at work trying to figure that out. We don’t know how to still the mind. We don’t know how commit to just being.

What has been lost is the ability to connect with others and to work together. The flow of our conversation and ideas has been interrupted so that we aren’t able to go deeper. The irony is that none of us like to be interrupted but that is exactly what happens. What makes it worse, is that we are being interrupted essentially by a computer. The energy changes and the connection has been lost. Sure we have more information at our fingertips, but we’ve replaced intimacy with information.

All of this leads to a greater sense of isolation. Even when we want to connect face-to-face we’re not exactly sure how to go about doing it. Communication is an art form and, like other art forms, needs to be practiced. We get better the more we do it. There is nothing better than connecting with another. In fact when we become master communicators it’s magical.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is how to make peace with an uncertain future. That uncertainty is there in almost all facets of our lives—our safety, our finances, our health, and our sense of wellbeing. The rapid technological changes contribute to this uncertainty.

Our challenge is to develop a trust that if we live totally in the present that the uncertainty we have about the future will unfold the way it should. Our part is to be 100% committed to whatever we are engaged in. It doesn’t mean to be in denial of some of the problems that we experience individually and collectively. But when we approach these concerns with 100% focus and effort, then we begin to discover solutions to problems that previously were thought to be insoluble.

Here’s a suggestion. For one precious moment, learn to trust it’s all going to work out. For that one moment just be. Then try it for ten minutes. Just be and give your concerns a holiday. They don’t need you all of the time. That holiday includes taking a vacation from your smart phone—plan your digital detox now.

Living in the moment and being present is an art form that can be cultivated. The ones that have mastered it have a presence about them. They are connected to the source of their personal power and all that is and has always been.

There are more and more articles in the main stream about the practical and spiritual benefits of having a mindfulness practice. Meditation in the morning is an essential practice to cultivate in this rapidly changing world.

“To dream – again. To dare – again.
To feel enjoyment and happiness – again,
or for the first time.
To realize – Ah, this is living —
This is the stand I take!”

What a worthy adventure we are on. Our job is to enjoy it, to be ethical and to live life fully.

Journey On

Mark

Please join me with my cohost Ralph Marston on the Journey On radio show. blogtalkradio.com/journeyon

Mark Susnow knows change. He is an executive-life coach, life-discovery guide and recognized thought leader who inspires others to believe in themselves. He is passionate about life being an exciting journey of discovery. His enthusiastic and inspiring keynotes on change, leadership and connection thoroughly convey this message to his audiences. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. In his prior career, he was covered by the NY Times, Boston Globe, and Rolling Stone Magazine. He is the author of Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes and Discover the Leader Within.

What is one change you are committed to making?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Think about how you live your day; your thoughts, your habits, the people you interact with. How did you feel afterwards? Were you energized or depleted? Reflecting upon our lives at times is invaluable.

It might be a little thing. I made changing my message on my answering machine into a big deal.I had the same message for two years….just saying that makes me feel like a dinasaur….stuck..resistant to change…and I’m not. I thought about changing my message on at least 100 occasions. And there were countless others who suggested my changing it. It’s amazing the amount of time that went to just thinking about it. And what’s also amazing are the spectrum of emotions that i felt and the reasons I came up with not doing anything. I know this was just a little thing which really wasn’t that important.

I was feeling anxious before making this change and this is from a person who is used to making significant decisions. Did you notice I did say “was”? I just made the change and with playing it back 4 times the whole process took under four minutes.

It seemed so easy and now I am thinking about making this change at least at the beginning of every month. Just think about other areas of your life in which you are reluctant to change. We can be stubborn sometimes, can’t we? But our resistance to change is what holds us back from having a successful and fulfilling life. Life is cyclical and full of changes…just think of the seasons of the year. We either create the changes in our life or we react to them. I know what I want to do and I am sure your preference would be to create the changes you want. But just start with one thing.

Declare yourself. Sometimes we just have to say we are going to do it. Make the commitment. Having someone hold us accountable is a big help.

What is one change that you can make today? Who is going to hold you accountable?

What a worthy adventure we are on. Our job is to enjoy it, to be ethical and to live life fully.

Journey On

Mark

Please join me with my cohost Ralph Marston on the Journey On radio show. blogtalkradio.com/journeyon

Mark Susnow knows change. He is an executive-life coach, life-discovery guide and recognized thought leader who inspires others to believe in themselves. He is passionate about life being an exciting journey of discovery. His enthusiastic and inspiring keynotes on change, leadership and connection thoroughly convey this message to his audiences. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. In his prior career, he was covered by the NY Times, Boston Globe, and Rolling Stone Magazine. He is the author of Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes and Discover the Leader Within.

Interrupt the Negative Thought Pattern

Monday, March 31st, 2014

In a life coaching session yesterday with one of my clients we discussed negative thinking. What exactly is negative thinking and what can we do about it? The simple answer is that negative thinking is and has been a life-long habit.

So what can you do to change this habit?  Start your day differently. Notice what you do in the morning. How you start your day sets the tone for the day! Choose to start it differently. What’s on your phone or online can wait until later in the day.

Here’s what I suggest. Sit for a few minutes in silence and then slowly focus on what you are grateful for. What that does is shift your focus from what isn’t working and what you don’t like about your life, to what is working and what you do like about your life. This practice goes a long way toward breaking the habit of negative thinking. If you don’t break the habit it can become hypnotic. And you know how it works. Before you know it you begin imagining the worse case scenario. There’s one more thing you can do to break this habit.

After you have focused on what you are grateful for, wonder about the highlight of your day. Many of my life coaching clients have reported to me that over time there expectations have changed and that they expect good things to occur. As your day progresses you’re wondering what the best possible outcome can be. This thinking can become an empowering habit, one that empowers you.

Consistent positive thinking, not only changes your outlook on life, but it also empowers you to see opportunities that previously you would not have looked at.
As we just mentioned these negative cycles can become hypnotic. The sooner that you recognize that you are in one of these negative loops the sooner you can break the hypnotic. Just recognize it and don’t judge it. Don’t beat yourself up. Notice it and then say, “Next.”

What a worthy adventure we are on. Our job is to enjoy it, to be ethical and to live life fully.

Journey On

Mark

Please join me with my cohost Ralph Marston on the Journey On radio show. blogtalkradio.com/journeyon

Mark Susnow, is an executive-life coach and recognized thought leader who inspires others to believe in themselves. He is passionate about life being an exciting journey of discovery. His enthusiastic and inspiring keynotes on change, leadership and connection thoroughly convey this message to his audiences. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. In his prior career, he was covered by the NY Times, Boston Globe, and Rolling Stone Magazine. He is the author of Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes and Discover the Leader Within.


Signup for our Email Newsletter

...and get inspired every month!

Close this popup

Would it be helpful to discover the self-defeating habits and limiting beliefs that are preventing you from living the life you really want? As a thank-you, you will have access to our Self-Assessment test.