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Success Has Changed. Have You?

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The American paradigm has long followed a dominant storyline: work hard; reap the rewards. We’re a scrappy frontier nation, after all. We love nothing better than a good bootstrap story, a rags-to-riches fairytale. And thus, “success” has predominantly been defined by external things like promotion, achievement and financial reward. Covid, however, has flipped the script. We’re living amid the Great Resignation, the chaos created from a growing realization that life is more than striving for the external. In October 2021 alone, 4.1 million US workers quit their jobs. And that was down from a record 4.4 million who left the workforce in September.

Covid has forced us to reframe how we think about what success itself means, and that, I believe, is causing a painful reckoning—because all change is hard even if it’s change for the good. Perhaps all the suffering, all the loss over the last two-plus years, will result in a new and healthier consciousness about what we value and what we work for. What I am seeing in my work with clients and the broader world is a change in the very nature of ambition.

It must be noted that there is a privilege in having the ability to consider life shifts and contemplate what success means. It is a privilege to choose to leave a job when so many cannot get one in the first place, and by no means do I take the pandemic’s immense toll lightly. However, the pain and suffering of the last few years, like all pain, have also presented opportunities for growth and reflection. As we think together about what the shifting shape of success might look like, I believe the following formula applies to us all, regardless of job title and income bracket.

A Formula for Success, Redefined

Seek Authenticity: Know Thy Self

Your life story is like a topographical map, full of contours, hills, and valleys, with life’s lessons concealed amidst the silhouettes. Understanding the contours of your life, the story of who you are, and recognizing the story you tell yourself is powerful. Your perception is your reality. Therefore, it’s essential to explore your life story, examine and question at least some of your assumptions. What is called for is a life review—without judgment. Inviting vulnerability, in conjunction with recognizing the superpowers you uncover, are the first steps towards showing up more authentically and becoming a more resilient human being. 

By revisiting the story of your life, you will glean what I call your drivers. Understanding your drivers, those values that give you a sense of clarity and guide healthy decision-making, is part of getting a true read of your patterns and motivations. Those values become that authentic voice that resonates deep within you, driving the kind of decision-making that enables you to be clear about when you want to say ‘Absolutely Yes’ to someone or something, and just as importantly,  when a ‘Hell No’ is what’s called for.

Cultivate Alignment

Authenticity sets your path toward success. It is the wind that gives you lift and momentum. It’s that feeling of being in flow, which happens when you are aligned with whom you know you want to be and how you want to be in the world. For example, when a spoke on a bicycle wheel is loose or pops out, the wheel wobbles, and fixing it is called truing the wheel. Being in alignment is truing your identity, and it results from being true to your most authentic self. It’s a beautiful thing and a smoother bike ride! Alignment is the secret sauce of happiness and success—it allows you to put yourself in opportunity’s way—the world opens up to you. It did for Maria.

Maria and I started working together in 2018, after her health—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—had come crashing down. Recently divorced, she was burned completely out and ready to quit her job and other entrepreneurial pursuits. The chickens, she told me, quoting her grandfather, had come to roost. She’d taken a yearlong sabbatical thinking that job stress was the issue, but even after time off, the malaise continued. Through our work together, she understood the underlying problem was that her wheels were out of true. She shared:

“Once I began to focus on my values (drivers) and align myself with what mattered most to me, then I started to get in a flow. I began to find myself in the path of opportunity and was able to focus my talents in a way that brings me joy and creates impact.”

Activation: Put It All To Work

A well-trued bicycle wheel doesn’t get you anywhere unless you pedal. You can redefine success any way you like, but it still requires action to bring it to light. So how do you take authenticity and alignment and create success? How do you read the topo map of your life and get where you intend and desire to go? To dream without a deadline is a fairytale. To plan without knowing where you are headed is a recipe for frustration.  Many of us haven’t been that specific in ideating the future we want. But how can you get there if you don’t know where you want to go?

Being micro-ambitious means being realistic about what you can and will do, not aiming for perfection. The path toward achieving anything big begins by starting small, through micro-ambitious steps. Small, identifiable, measurable actions grow up to become big change.

What the pandemic and the great resignation are facilitating is a new understanding of success that is less determined by paycheck or public profile than by an inner sense of authenticity, alignment and value-driven intention that drives your decision making. Unfortunately, it took a global pandemic to shake things up fully. Still, fortunately, it only takes a dose serious reflection and micro-ambitious steps to realize a newly redefined sense of purpose and satisfaction. And that, my friends, is how you can move towards your own version of success.

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Food Is Medicine And What We Eat Is Important

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Your mental state is a critical component of your physical health. And when you’re under a lot of stress, you might not be eating the healthy food that provides nutrients for fighting anxiety and depression. So when we examine what we’ve been eating, most of us discover that the decisions we’ve been making in the name of simplicity, convenience, or saving time have been damaging to our total health – body, mind, and spirit.

A person’s diet is a direct reflection of their health. When a person does not eat the right foods, their body breaks down. This can lead to an overall decrease in quality of life and many other diseases linked to improper nutrition. In North America, our current diet mainly consists of an excess of grain, sugar, fried and fatty foods. As a result, disorders including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and certain malignancies are becoming increasingly widespread.

The science of food has always been discussed; however, with recent technological innovations in food processing and agriculture, people have enjoyed more convenient foods that are less expensive than ever before. Unfortunately, with every convenience comes a trade-off. Smart foods are often packed with sugar, salt, and calories, leading to poor health in some individuals. 

To understand what a person is putting into their body, it’s essential to realize that the small molecules in food are responsible for allowing our bodies to function. These small molecules are called nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and enzymes. A nutrient is not a value unless absorbed by the body through a specific pathway. For example, if you absorb calcium without vitamin D, your body will not use that calcium. 

Eating a balanced diet keeps you healthy, but it helps reduce your stress. For example, eat foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants because they help augment your immune response and prevent toxins from damaging your cells. Vitamins A, C, and E serve as antioxidants that fight off free radicals in the body. Free radicals are toxic products of metabolism that cause damage to your cells. Experts claim that they are responsible for the aging process. Good sources of these vitamins are deeply-colored vegetables- green leafy, yellow, and orange vegetables, such as squash, broccoli, kale, spinach, and carrots.

Iron is one of the most abundant minerals in the body, and it mainly functions to deliver oxygen to your cells. Hence, an iron deficiency, medically termed Iron-deficiency anemia, is associated with weakness, easy fatigability, and pale skin. Tea, coffee, red wine, grapes, and berries are rich in antioxidants that function the same as your vitamins A, C, and E. 
You need a diet that’s healthy and balanced – and one that can fit comfortably into your busy lifestyle.

Here are some of the recommended dietary guidelines.

Eat a diet high in fresh vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. 

Exercise every other day to release endorphins, feel good, get the blood flowing, and reduce stress levels. 

Eat salt only when you need it, but not too much as your body does not need it. Many people with anxiety are hypothyroid or have low magnesium. When your body needs more sodium, it can indicate that you are not producing enough cortisol or are dehydrated. If you experience chronic anxiety, I recommend working with a physician to run tests on cortisol levels and then take salt supplements as needed. Use spices like turmeric, ginger, curry, and aromatic herbs like parsley, rosemary, sage, and basil.
Eat low-fat meals because they will cause a minor spike in blood sugar levels: think lean meats, eggs, vegetables, and nuts; avoid dairy if it makes you feel anxious. 

Drink lots of water — keep hydrated all day — ideally at least half a gallon if possible — your brain needs water to function optimally! 

Avoid foods that you know will make you feel bad, such as dairy, even with low-fat content. You can cut out dairy and not worry about it! 

Avoid sugar, caffeine, processed foods, alcohol, and any other substance that makes you feel bad or increases anxiety levels. Also, avoid coffee — drinking more than one cup a day can cause anxiety in some people. Coffee is also dehydrating and inhibits the absorption of minerals from food/water/supplements — try caffeinated water as a substitute for coffee if you like the caffeine kick. 

Find a natural health professional that you can talk to or work with to quickly get the results you want. 

Healthy foods and nutrition can help you stay fit, but they can also assist you in treating disease. When you nurture your body physically with these nutrient-dense foods, your mental capacities improve, as does your spiritual welfare. Moreover, because your spiritual health is at its best, it will radiate to the exterior world, causing others to notice you’re happier and more relaxed, and your stress levels have decreased dramatically.

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The Points of Light Civic Circle Offers Real Ways You Can Change the World 

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Sixty-six percent of Americans don’t believe they can make a big impact in the world. 

That figure is according to Points of Light’s research on civic engagement. But what if I told you there are actually many ways to drive change? 

Today’s political climate can feel divided or even stagnant, but the truth is, you really can make things better, starting with your own community, one act of kindness at a time. And those aren’t just words. I’m here to share real, practical ways for you to make a difference. 

The Points of Light Civic Circle helps people connect to opportunities and understand that doing good comes in many forms. It is a framework that represents your power to lead, lend support and take action for causes you care about and live your best civic life. 

The Civic Circle provides actionable examples of all the ways you can change your community to reflect the world you want to see around you. In fact, you’re probably doing some of these things already. Are you helping a neighbor by picking up groceries or chaperoning on your child’s class field trip? You’re volunteering. Did you vote in the last election or help others get to the polls so they could vote? Those acts of civic duty illustrate the “vote” element. When you buy a product, do you choose to support companies that reflect your values or advance a social cause? That’s called “purchase power.” There are nine elements of the Civic Circle, and countless ways to bring each one to life. 

This blog is the first in a five-part series that will help you find real and manageable ways to activate the Civic Circle through apps, documentaries, podcasts and books. 

We also offer other resources to help you connect with all the ways you can become empowered to be the change you want to see in the world. Check out our videos that provide an in-depth look at each element of the Civic Circle. And don’t miss Civic Life Today, our digital magazine series. Each issue takes a deep dive and provides materials, ideas and inspiration so that you can become civically engaged.  Get started today, and launch your own civic engagement journey with these tools. 

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Are you an Amateur or a Pro? 30 Differences to Help You Decide…

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My client, Sebastian, thinks he’s behind on “life”.

He thinks he missed the memo the rest of us received on how to live a happy life.

I know better.

Sebastian hasn’t fallen behind and there is no such memo.

We’re all just trying to figure it out.

Unless we’re not. And there are a lot of people who simply are not trying to figure it out.

My friend and Professional Coach, Elaine Taylor-Klaus, calls them Status quo-ers — as opposed to Growers.

Anyone who makes a serious commitment to working with a Professional Coach is by definition a “Grower” and Sebastian is no exception.

Growers want to know, feel and live more. They push every boundary and sometimes fall off cliffs. They say “yes” to way too many things and often feel overwhelmed and over committed. They have a congenital distaste of the status quo and will sabotage any situation if it feels like “settling” to them. They’re insatiable and often don’t know what exactly will assuage their hunger.

Growers often appear to the world as troubled, frustrated and critical.

Inside they feel unfulfilled and misunderstood.

The truth is that they can’t help but be driven by Oscar Wilde’s belief that,

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.”

Growers will break every piece in the china shop when they find themselves just existing and not living as they see fit. And they suffer for it.

That is… until they turn pro and transform their life!

Steven Pressfield famously states in his book, Turning Pro

“Becoming a pro, in the end, is nothing grander than growing up.”

Sebastian thinks he’s falling behind because he’s still living life as an amateur at 34.

To put the above into context, I didn’t turn pro till well into my 40’s!

Best move I ever made! 

So what’s the difference between living life as an amateur vs. a pro?

Although there is no one size fits all manifesto on “how to turn pro”, here are thirty distinctions I’ve learned which apply to ANY Grower who is truly committed to living a life of purpose, fulfillment and ease.

  1. Amateurs look for hacks and shortcuts — Pros do the work.
  2. Amateurs speed up — Pros slow down.
  3. Amateurs are busy — Pros are focused.
  4. Amateurs sell first — Pros serve first.
  5. Amateurs think it’s about them — Pros know it’s never personal.
  6. Amateurs think life is short — Pros know life is actually really freakin’ long.
  7. Amateurs are reactive — Pros are responsive.
  8. Amateurs live with constant misunderstandings — Pros take the time to get clear.
  9. Amateurs don’t know what success looks like (to them) — Pros  know their definition of success and aren’t afraid to change it.
  10. Amateurs don’t know their core life values — Pros do.
  11. Amateurs want to feel happy — Pros want to feel alive!
  12. Amateurs play to “not lose” — Pros play to win.
  13. Amateurs are harsh — Pros are fierce.
  14. Amateurs secretly enjoy being in the “Victim Mindset” — Pros are a “Hell No” to that!
  15. Amateurs wonder what people say about them when they leave the room — Pros know.
  16. Amateurs have false and limiting beliefs around money — Pros don’t.
  17. Amateurs are constantly searching for life balance — Pros are living an integrated life.
  18. Amateurs think everything matters — Pros know what few things actually do matter (for them).
  19. Amateurs set boundaries defensively — Pros simply honor their “operating system”.
  20. Amateurs think help is a four letter word — Pros actively seek opportunities to help and be helped.
  21. Amateurs don’t have a relationship with their “Future Self” — Pros are best friends with their “Future Self”.
  22. Amateurs confuse knowing with doing — Pros receive knowledge and apply it (EVERY moment of EVERY day).
  23. Amateurs love information — Pros love insights.
  24. Amateurs have intentions — Pros have commitments.
  25. Amateurs have expectations — Pros have agreements.
  26. Amateurs compare — Pros create.
  27. Amateurs live from probability — Pros live from possibility.
  28. Amateurs are focused only on the “Goal Line” — Pros are focused on both the “Goal Line” and the “Soul Line”.
  29. Amateurs set goals with contingencies — Pros know contingencies are just excuses and NOW is the time!
  30. Amateurs create from the past — Pros create from the future.

Now that you are aware of the 30 differences between an amateur and a pro, where do you see yourself?

And I’d love to know why. Get in touch with your answer.

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