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Connect to Your Power, Passion, and Purpose

Wake Up to Work You Love

Wednesday, October 14, 2009  at 2:17 PM
Has your career alarm clock sounded and you’ve hit the snooze button? If so, you may not know it.

Are you bored and uninspired at work? Do you have a nagging feeling that you’re here to fulfill some purpose, but you aren’t sure what it is?

If these questions ring a bell, pay attention. Ignoring their call can affect your emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. Recent studies show that unhappiness at work is the number one risk factor for heart disease over smoking, high cholesterol, and hypertension.

According to Laurence G. Boldt, author of Zen and the Art of Making a Living, we are in the midst of an emerging social movement: the movement to find work we love. Just as we once shifted from family-arranged marriages to love-based marriages, we now seek work that fulfills us, rather than work that is simply a means to an end.

If you long for work that brings you creative self-expression, listen. Your internal alarm is trying to wake you. If you’re feeling called to be of service to the world, your external alarm wants to get your attention. Wake up. It’s time for a change.

An Authentic Life: Cleansing Secrets

Tuesday, October 6, 2009  at 8:12 AM
Do you have a secret? Of course you do. When I lived in Atlanta, I attended a Bible study class at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. We would meet at the downtown church every Wednesday at 7 a.m. One of our members, Adele, arrived at the church an hour earlier to cook us a wonderful breakfast of eggs, bacon, and biscuits. What a treat.

We were a ragtag group of various ages, incomes, and education. Still we shared a thirst for spiritual growth. One 70-something member, Muriel, shared that she went to a therapist at least once a year to “clear out any secrets.” “We all have them, you know,” she added. I loved the concept and visited a therapist for the first time in my life that year. Muriel was right: I found the experience cleansing.

A friend recently told me about a website that offers a similar service. People create and send anonymous postcards with their secrets, and these postcards are posted on the site. Some of the postings are funny, while others are quite sad. All are entertaining. Check out one of the coolest sites on the web,

How to Answer Life's Questions

Wednesday, September 30, 2009  at 6:51 AM
At a crossroads? Seeking clarity? Wondering what's next? Are you one of the millions of Americans are asking themselves what they are doing, where they are going, and what they want to do with the rest of their lives?

Faced with a myriad of options, many become paralyzed. Author, speaker, and counselor Richard Leider offers this simple formula for making life choices:
T + P + E x V

T is for talent. What are your strengths and weaknesses, and are you maximizing those strengths while managing the weaknesses? Many of us aren’t aware of our talents and shortcomings, and as a result most of us aren’t living up to our full potential.

P is for purpose. Most of us are searching for meaning, and we want to know that our lives matter. “Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation,” Aristotle once offered. How are you using your talents to make the world -- even your little part of it -- a better place?

E is for environment. Many people have real talents and are prepared to apply them in something they believe in, but their environment holds them back. What environment best suits your style, your temperament, and your values? Using the Enneagram, I help clients determine their ideal work environment so that they won’t make costly mistakes.

V is for vision. Talent, purpose, and environment are about work style and choice. Vision describes how work fits into the rest of your life.

For close to 25 years, Richard Leider interviewed more than 1,000 people who retired from leading companies after distinguished careers. Most said if they could live their lives again, they would:

1. Be more reflective

2. Take more risks

3. Understand what gave them fulfillment

Leider concludes that fulfillment is the truest measure of success, and fulfillment comes from integrity, knowing who you are and finding the courage to express yourself in the world.

Balance Work with Home

Thursday, September 24, 2009  at 9:08 AM
Work and personal life out of balance? You're not alone. Those of you who know me, know that I love to follow trends. One futurist I follow is Roger Herman of the Herman Group. Herman and his partner Joyce Gioia specialize in employee retention and offer a free weekly eNewsletter that I subscribe to,

Herman believes – and I concur – that money is no longer the chief motivator in getting job candidates to sign on the dotted line. “Maintaining balance between work and personal lives is rapidly becoming one of the primary motivators for today’s workers. Balance has already surfaced as an important criterion for people choosing their next employer.” The focus is now on “softer issues” like professional development, being involved in decision making, childcare, and finding meaning in one’s work. Chief among these issues is work-life balance.

Many of my clients struggle with work-life balance. Upon questioning them, I find that many of their challenges are self-inflicted. It’s not so much the company’s expectations of them, as their expectations of themselves. Smart employers know they can increase employee retention rates by being sensitive to life balance.

I empathize with my clients’ struggle for balance. “I should be doing something productive,” my inner critic whispers. And with Blackberries, cell phones, and e-mail, it’s too easy to stay connected with work during down times.

I sure don’t have the solution, but I have found that if I schedule time to do the things I enjoy, I make time for them. For example, every Tuesday morning (when I’m not out of town) I used to attend a painting group at A-B Tech in Asheville. For three hours, I would have nothing to do but paint. Today, I have a studio, and I still have to schedule time on my calender to be there.
For me it is time well spent, as those three hours help ground me through the week.

The Power of Facing Fear

Tuesday, September 22, 2009  at 7:38 AM
Do you usually say yes to life’s invitations? Monhegan Island, Maine, could be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited, yet when Greg recently asked me to hike its rocky cliffs my first response was to say no. Whatever the question, no is often my immediate response.

Do you want to take a walk?
How about a bike ride by the river?

What would you think about checking out that new museum?

It seems to be a knee-jerk reaction on my part, but when I dig a little deeper, I discover fear. There’s a thin layer of fear that surrounds almost every new experience. When I name, feel, and face it, fear loses its intensity, and I find the courage to say yes.

I go on the walk, take a bike ride, or visit the museum, and I’m almost always rewarded. I see a beautiful vista, feel the pride of accomplishment, or learn something new.

Taking the path of least resistance leads to complacency. It may be safe, but the scenery seldom changes. When I get off my butt, face my fears, and just do it, I fuel the engines that energize my life.

When life issues an invitation I am learning to consider saying yes before no. Life is most likely offering me a lovely present, but I need to show up to receive it.

Happy Places

Wednesday, September 16, 2009  at 10:02 AM
Do you have a happy place? A happy place is a memory that helps ground you. It connects you to your source, or essence. Visiting it can shift your attitude. It can bring you peace.

My happy place was a spot in Muir Woods in California. Picture a clear, gentle stream slowly meandering through a cathedral composed of giant red woods. I visited Muir Woods close to ten years ago, and I revisit it often in my imagination, especially when I am feeling anxious.

Yesterday, I discovered another happy spot. Greg and I stumbled upon a beautiful green pond at the bottom of a waterfall outside of Conway, New Hampshire. There’s a photo of it above. I can’t explain why, but this place seems magical. It’s the kind of place you’d expect to find fairies, nymphs, and satyrs hidden behind the boulders, trees, and bushes. Green, blue, gray, rust. Cool and quiet. Its beauty is so startling that it almost feels surreal.

Happy places aren’t always visual. For some, listening to a beautiful piece of music can transport them to their special spot. Others may experience theirs touching a piece of worn fabric or holding the hand of someone they love.

What’s wonderful about happy places is that you can visit them at any time. No advance tickets to purchase, passport photos to shoot, shots to take, or bags to pack. You can be there in less than a minute.
And when you’re there? Serenity washes over you. You know you are safe; you’re not alone. You know all is right with the world.

What is your happy place? Write and tell me about it. I’d like to know.

The Power of Letting Go

Thursday, September 10, 2009  at 7:36 PM
How to let go of limiting beliefs. The I heard once that to become who we are we have to let go of who we are not. Like most clever sayings, it is easier said than done.

Gabriel Marchel, in his book Being and Having, laments that our society teaches us how to hold onto and to possess, when it should be teaching us how to let go. We will never live richer, more authentic, lives until we do, because most of us are stuck in old belief systems that seldom get us what we really want.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to know when to let go. Lecturer, author, and counselor Penny Peirce suggests taking a closer look when we:
• Are confused.
• Are depressed.
• Have no sense of direction.
• Have run out of motivation.
• Don’t like ourselves.
• Feel a sense of urgency all the time.
• Are ahead of ourselves and others.
• Are overwhelmed and overcrowded.
• Are procrastinating.
• Are spending time in the past.
• Are trying too hard.
• Feel no one seems to hear or see us.
• Find little of interest.
• Have no confidence.
• Feel things aren’t fun anymore.
• Expect results too soon.
• Are compulsive.
• Are sure the answer lies in thinking or doing more, better, or differently.

After seeing myself in more than several of Penny Peirce’s guidelines, I listed those belief systems that no longer serve me. Within minutes, my list had grown to ten. I then selected three “biggies” on which to focus my work:
1. “Doing is better than being.”
2. “I am not enough.”
3. “There is not enough.”

I was ready to begin letting go, and to do it I committed to a simple three-step process:

1. Recognize when I am reacting to outdated belief systems. Emotional warning signals include feeling anxious, afraid, indignant, rejected, sorry for myself, ashamed, worried, or confused.

2. Take a deep belly breath and gently observe what I am doing/feeling without judgment. “Whoops, there I go again.”

3. Examine what has happened and tell myself the truth. For example, when I catch myself worrying about money (“there is not enough”), I remind myself that I have plenty of money on which to live, and besides, I can always make more.