Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lose the Excuses: "I Might Fail"

That’s entirely possible – but, so what? In fact, it’s inevitable. At some point you’ll binge or have that piece of cake. You will splurge and go over your budget. You will roll over one morning and sleep in instead of working out. You’ll smoke that cigarette. Does any of that means you have failed?

When I was 26, I moved to Phoenix. I had visions of palm trees, warm weather and a snow-free existence. I also thought of myself as a modern-day version of the mythical Phoenix, rising up from the ashes as an incredible new creature! It sounded so nice! So I moved there, sight unseen, with no friends and no job. I managed to find a job and a get a place but I hated both of them. In fact, the Phoenix of reality, was nothing like the Phoenix of my dream. I moved back home nine months later.

I had been home for a month when I went over to my aunt’s house for dinner. My uncle pulled me aside and told me how disappointed everyone was with me. I had so much potential but I was failing. After all, I only managed to stay in Phoenix nine months, not even a year!

I responded by asking how long I would have had to stay to make him happy? A year? Maybe two? I told him the way I saw it, I hadn’t ‘failed’ at all. I moved to a city I’d never been to before almost all the way across the country. How many people would have taken a chance like that? If anything, Phoenix was a success because I took a huge chance and I made it work. I found a place. I found a job. I made friends. Maybe Phoenix wasn’t for me, but it taught me a few lessons (at least visit a city before you move there!) and it gave me the confidence to know that I can take care of myself no matter where I am.

Change the way you look at what you call ‘failure.’ If it teaches you something about yourself, if you learn something from it, if it reveals to you something that takes you in another direction; then it cannot be a failure.

So what are you waiting for? Lose the excuses! Go ahead and get started knowing there is no failure where there is growth or truth.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Take My Advice and Just Quit

Yes, you read that right. I said, “Quit.”

“But,” you say, “You’re the life coach?”

Yes, I am and I’m telling you again to quit. Stop the merry-go-round. Call it a day. Get off the horse. Throw in the towel. Realize that the dog just won’t hunt. However you want to do it, I want you to just give up.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about staying the course and follow-through but there are some instances where that is not the right course of action. In fact, I can think of two good reasons (not excuses) to quit.

The first is when the goal you are trying to reach isn’t your goal. If you are saving for a house because everybody told you that you had to purchase a house and not because you genuinely want a house; then it isn’t your goal. If you don’t want it for yourself, you won’t make it a priority, and it won’t get done. Others goals for you don’t’ have to be your goals.

The second instance is when it is your goal and you want it, but you just can’t get it together. You’ve had several ‘false starts.’ You intended to save $500 over the next three months. But the car broke down and that was unexpected; then you forgot that your car tax was due; finally, it was the holiday season, and you spent way too much on gifts. Now, you’re beating yourself up pretty bad.

So take a break.

We writers do it all the time. After we write, we step away from the project for at least a day or two (many times longer). Staring at the same page over and over and over again, makes you lose perspective. In writing and proofing, it means you will miss typos, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. By stepping away, you can come back and read your material with rested and fresh eyes.

Give yourself some downtime. Don’t even think about the goal. Eat what you want. Smoke the cigarettes you want, do a little shopping. After your break, you can return to your goal with fresh eyes. Once you’ve rested, you can ask yourself some tough questions: What parts of your plan worked? What can you do to avoid those false starts the next? Then and only then are you ready to get-going again on your goal.

Be warned. A break implies that you will return. If you tell your boss you’re taking a break, you can’t just up and leave. You are expected to return. It’s the same with the break. Take it but come back to the goal. If you don’t your break has turned into an excuse… and you know how I feel about excuses!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I used to have a very bad habit of beating myself up. If I didn’t meet a goal I’d set for myself or if I didn’t perform as well as I had hoped, the negative voices would start. “Goodness! And people actually think you’re smart.” “You can’t do any better than that?” “Just look at you!”

Then, I was talking to a friend after a particularly bad day and she said something remarkable. She said something that literally changed my life. She said, “If you talked to your friends the way you talk to yourself, you wouldn’t have any friends.”


She was right. I go out of my way to be positive and kind to my friends, co-workers … and even strangers, but I was unable to extend that same basic courtesy and kindness to myself.

It was at that point that I started really observing how I talked to myself. It was shocking and I knew it had to change. So when the negative self-talk would start, I’d start talking back. “No, I’m not an idiot.” “I made a mistake, these things happen.”

On several occasions, I even broke out the pen and the pad and wrote out what I liked about myself or all the reasons why I wasn’t an idiot. And it took some time but it began to work.

I can’t say that I never have a negative thought or that I never throw myself a good old fashioned pity party, but it happens now a lot less frequently and when it does happen it doesn’t happen for as long.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

First Class Treatment

I was in Montana for work all last week and I flew back to Charlotte last night. It had been a long day and by early evening, the only thing separating me from home was the four hour flight from Salt Lake City to Charlotte. I sat on the aisle in the first row of seats in the Coach section.

I had a perfect view into First Class where there were two very pleasant and attentive flight atttendants for the handful of VIP passengers. Those in First Class had drinks before take off and just in general seemed to be having a good time being showered with extra attention. Meanwhile, just one row and a flimsy blue drape away, I sat in Coach among the crying children and cramped seats. I watched while they had snacks in First Class, more drinks and a nice hot meal with real silver and glassware.

And I waited in Coach, with over 70 people, who were also being served by two flight attendants, for almost two hours just to get a soda and pay top dollar for a cold fried chicken sandwich. When I asked for one of the Margaritas they'd been promoting, I was told they didn't have time to make one for me.

It occurred to me as I sat there eating my sandwich that we tend to treat our loved ones as if they are riding in Coach. Like those Coach flight attendants, we are often spread too thin with too many things to do and too many people to serve. No time to do anything extra.

Yet every once in a while, it would be great if we could treat those we love to a little first class treatment. Run a hot bath for the hubby after a hard day. Give the wife a day off and treat her to dinner (or cook it yourself). Spend an evening with the kids doing something they absolutely love. Go get manicures with your best friend.

Believe me, a little first class treatment can go a long way.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Life on Purpose

Earlier today, I participated in a tele-class on finding your life’s purpose. There were hundreds of us on the call. In his introduction, the leader said something I found remarkable. Not everyone wants to know what their purpose is. Why wouldn’t you want to know why you are here, having this experience? Why wouldn’t you want to know what it is you are supposed to do or how you are supposed to contribute?

He gave two reasons. Some people are content to go through life from day-to-day, never realizing and never caring about doing something, or being something more than what they already are. Others are scared to know their purpose. If they knew it, they would have to act on it. Not knowing means not doing.

For those who want to know their purpose, the major obstacle to finding it can be summed up in one word: fear. As long as we fear our purpose - what it could be, what it could mean, what it would require of us and what we might have to sacrifice to get it - we’ll never know it.

Personally, I feel strongly that coaching is part of my purpose. I am passionate about it. Whether I’m working with a client, writing this blog, coordinating a workshop or a tele-class, I truly love what I do and I know that I've had a positive impact on the lives of my clients. I feel that has to be a part of my purpose.

I’m looking forward to delving more deeply into uncovering my purpose.

What about you? Have you found your purpose or your passion? Do you feel that kind of quest is even relevant to your life?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Michael Jordan Wants You to Lose the Excuses!

My friend and fellow blogger Kim Crouch sent me a link to a new Michael Jordan Nike commercial. The basketball legend and one of the greatest players in the history of the game has a commercial that talks about the hard work and discipline it took to make "Michael Jordan."

Success is never without failure. MJ was cut from his high school team sophomore year. Yet, that failure made him work harder. He didn't use it as an excuse to give up. He used it as a motivation to get better.

Likewise, every overnight sensation took years to get there. Talk to any 'one-hit wonder,' and they'll tell you of the years of bad auditions, all the songs that didn't become hits and playing to audiences of one.

People who have experienced success aren't people who never failed. They are people who made a different decision after they failed. They decided to get up and try again, and again and again.

Want a dose of motivation: Check the video out for yourself.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Taking a Dump

Life is good! And it’s also very busy. I will be out of town for work for a week. I’ve got coaching to do, two websites to manage, a few deadlines to meet and I’m moving at the end of the month. I’ve been running like I crazy woman and right now, I feel like it’s catching up with me.

So what is my plan for tonight? First, I’m going to do what I call a brain dump. I’ll pull out my trusty planner and write down all those to-do’s that are racing through my head. I always feel better after a brain dump. Getting those ideas out of my head and on to paper gets rid of that nagging fear that I’m going to forget something.

After that I’m going to do … nothing. Well, actually I will do a couple of things. I’m going to take a long bath, write in my journal and maybe get some reading done or find something good on television.
If I tried to work tonight, I don’t think I would get anything done tonight anyway. I’ve learned that when I’m tired and I try to force myself to work, I end up stressed and frustrated and unfocused. Any work I do accomplish will take twice as long and end up half as good.

So this evening, I will relax and tomorrow, I’ll wake up rested and ready to go.

Now … I’m going to go take that dump!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Lose the Excuses: "I Don't Have Time"

Time. I know. I know. You don't have enough of it. Between the kids, the carpool, the job, the commute, the cooking, the cleaning, the in-laws, the neighbors, the dog, and the cat, there simply isn't any time left for you. Or is there?

Let's say, it's 9:15 on a Monday morning. As you sip your coffee, you review your week. It's packed. Meetings to attend. Presentations to make. Reports to complete. Interviews to conduct. There are kids to carpool. Practices to attend. A recital. A game. A birthday party to plan. A networking event you helped coordinate and a potluck that popped up at the last minute. Plus there is shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, church, other family obligations, cars that need to be serviced and the list goes on and on. Every day this week is full and that includes the weekend!

Five minutes later, the phone rings. It's Stacy London co-host of What Not to Wear. Instead of bringing you to New York City for a week, she's coming to your town tomorrow. And, it gets better, instead of giving you a $5,000 shopping spree, she's coming with $10,000. The catch is that you have to do it tomorrow and they need you all day.

I'm willing to bet that you would find a way to make it happen.

You would delegate. You would enlist the help of co-workers, husband and even kids to move some of that stuff off of your place.

You would say no. You would turn down the offer to help with another potluck for work. You would tell another parent that you could not do the carpool this week.

You would focus. You would get twice as much work done in half the time by minimizing the interruptions and cutting out a lot of the small talk and extra fluff.

You would get organized. You'd pull out the planner and get busy rescheduling, planning, and coordinating your days.

You might even change your schedule. You would be willing to get up a little bit earlier or stay up a bit later to get it done.

The fact of the matter is that you would make it happen because the end result - a $10,000 shopping spree is important to you. Not doing it would not be an option.

Are the things you want important enough to you? You can start delegating, saying no, getting organizing and focusing right now. If it's important enough, you can find the time.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Domino Effect

I was talking to a good friend of mine earlier today and she was riding high on a wave of confidence. Over the weekend, she overcame a major fear. She'd been taking swimming lessons with her son and during her last lesson, she told her instructor that she wanted to jump off the diving board.

Diving was something she had never tried, in fact, the idea of just swimming in the deep end scared her. Yet, before she knew it, she was standing on the board looking down into 11.5 feet of water. Then she did it. She literally 'took the plunge'.

She dove in and when she came back up, she did it again and then one more time after that.

Two days later at church, she got a ton of compliments on how good she looked. She called me today and told me with pride how she aced an interview she went on.

I could hear the confidence in her voice. She talked about her good couple of days and I pointed out to her that it wasn't luck. It was her own doing. She took the plunge and overcame a major fear. It was that pride and that confidence that her fellow churchgoers saw beaming from her. That confidence and those compliments as well as all the hard work and effort she's put into her job search, fueled her interview.

What she is experiencing is a positive domino effect.

Most people see a domino effect as a negative - one bad thing happens and then another and another. But it works in the positive as well. One good thing can lead to another good thing and another good thing after that.

My friend has a lot to be proud of because she took control of her situation. She didn't have to jump into the deep end but she did. She could have let the frustration of a protracted job search get to her, but she plugs away everyday always looking for new opportunties and ways to improve her portfolio, her resume and her job search techniques.

The hard work is starting to pay off and as all of these good dominoes start to fall, I can't wait to see what is in store for her next!