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When I blogged last week about The Walk I mentioned that I was almost finished with the book, but I had no idea I would wrap it up within 24 hours. I guess my longing for a novel was stronger than I had imagined! Here’s both the funny and frustrating part– when I noticed (on my Kindle) that I’d read 99% of the book, I thought to myself, “That’s impossible, he hasn’t walked that far!”  Then, I came to the last page which read, “Coming April 2011, book 2 of The Walk series.” What??? That was the frustrating part. The funny part was when I shouted out loud, “I have to wait until April??” Yes, I had been suckered, and I wanted more!

I was looking forward to taking each and every step with Alan on his journey to Key West, but I guess I will have to wait a bit longer. So, for those of you who are used to my four posts per book, sorry, we’ll have to pick this one back up in April!

However, there is one thing I didn’t mention about Alan Christoffersen, and that was his journaling habit. It all began when his mother gave him his first diary for Christmas at the age of 8, a little over a month before she dies.  As he states once he reaches Key West (we do know he gets there!):

“After a few minutes, I go back and sit cross-legged in the sand next to my pack and do what I always do at the pivotal moments in my life: I take out a pen, open my diary, and begin to write. My writing habit began long ago– long before this diary, long before my walk. It made me feel important to have something in my life of such consequence that I needed to lock it up from the world. (It would be) a habit I would continue for the rest of my life.”

He tells us more:

“I started writing in my diary because my mother told me to. After her death, I continued because to stop would be to break a chain that connected me to her. Then, gradually, even that changed. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the reason I wrote was always changing. As I grew older, I wrote as proof of my existence. I write, therefore I am.”

The Walk IS Alan’s diary.

It seems to me that Alan’s writing habit– his process of purging his soul on paper– prepared him for the moment when he could no longer keep his thoughts and feelings under lock and key, but take them out into the open, exposed, open for nature and the unknown to do with them what they wished. Alan’s walk is his ultimate release, his vulnerable soul’s trek toward transformation.

A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Sandy Grason, author of Journalution. Sandy defines Journalution as:

  1. the act of revealing inner wisdom through writing
  2. the act of cleansing emotional blocks through writing
  3. journal writing to produce or further radical change from within
  4. a process for becoming free from confusion or doubt
  5. a process for discovering or shining in one’s passion and purpose
  6. a journey from one place to another (i.e., from where you are now to the life of your dreams).

Makes you want to grab a journal and write, huh? Who doesn’t want a little (or a lot!) of any of the above?

Not many of us will experience the kind of loss that the main character of The Walk does. And, not many of us will ever embark on a 3,600-mile trek on foot. But, we can certainly use his lifelong habit of journaling and his new way of life, walking, in small bits daily to help us live more lightly, creatively, and spiritfully (I may have just invented this word!).

I don’t journal daily, nor do I walk daily, but I have a feeling that if I were to do both daily, mindfully, I would more deeply and meaningfully tap into my inner wisdom, cleanse any blocks, produce radical change from within, become free from doubt or confusion, discover or shine in my passion and purpose, and journey from one place to another.

Blogging certainly helps me achieve many of these.

How do you or can you use writing or walking to do your soul’s work?

Happy Trails…on paper or pavement. 🙂

Monique

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

My daughter taking a Strategic Pause

I chose this title for my final post about The Leader in Me, because this statement reflects what the students feel at these various schools where the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People have been implemented (all over the world, I might add!). Regardless of how they went about it, the feedback seems to be same. The students recognize and appreciate that these principles, courses and events are about helping them have amazing lives; about identifying how spectacular and unique they are, and about dreaming and achieving.

I’ve referred mostly to A.B. Combs Elementary, the first school to take on The Leader in Me. Their success was so profound that in 2006 they were named the number one magnet school in the U.S. Amazing. However, they are not the only school to achieve success. The second half of the book details how middle and high schools implement the principles differently than do elementary schools, but have also found significant success. Covey highly suggests that each school doit “Their Own Way.” The important part of implementation is not necessarily how it is done, but how the children and teachers feel. Here is a list of a few other schools highlighted in the book with a snapshot of how they infused the Habits:

  • Singapore – Chua Chu Kang Primary School: Habits 1-3 are taught to the 10 year olds; Habits 4-7 are taught to 11 year olds, and all of the Habits are taught to the 12 year olds, who were preparing for their national exam.
  • Chicago – Noble Street Charter School in Chicago: The 7 Habits are taught as part of the year-long freshman literature class. Students read the 7 Habits for Teens as well as a series of “personal journey” books that promote taking charge of one’s life and overcoming opposition.
  • California – Mar Vista High School: The 7 Habits are taught as part of a stand-alone course called Crossroads. It entails a potpourri of life and career skills and uses the Habits as foundation for the course, which is taught to freshman. They also read the 7 Habits for Teens, and use the matching Student Activity Guide.
  • Singapore – Clementi Town Secondary School: Created a program called HEY (Highly Effective Youth) to help first-year students transition from lower level to upper secondary level. They focus on one Habit per week and infuse the Habit into all coursework and via events.
  • Guatemala – Across all High Schools: The Minister of Education wanted to address the “hopelessness” that most youth felt in the country. She wanted to teach the kids to dream of a better country and a better life. She created the Path of Dreams program to give youth the tools to learn how to dream again and help them create a Life Plan. Students also are required to develop action plans to help remedy a social problem (in teams), like AIDS, or child abuse.

One common thread across all schools listed in the book is that all teachers are taught the 7 Habits prior to implementation.

In beginning this journey my goal was not to set out to prepare my children to be CEOs, but to be able to lead their own lives; to give them timeless principles that can serve as road maps for them daily. As children, their issues may not seem as complex as ours, but certainly they seem BIG to them. Whether it is sharing a cherished toy (for my 5-year-old), or dealing with peer pressure (for my 11-year-old). I feel confident that 7 Habits will help them make the best choices for them in the moment. And, if they happen not to make the choice I would have liked for them to make, well, it will provide another opportunity for us all to reflect and learn.

The final chapter of the book guides parents, like me, to implement these principles at home. Covey recommends using  The Power of Modeling, which includes these important components:

  1. Inspire Trust: The best way for your children to learn the Habits is to see you modeling them.
  2. Clarify Purpose: Be clear on what you want your children to learn/accomplish. What is your family’s mission? If you don’t have one, create one. Identify milestones.
  3. Align Systems: How will you get buy-in? How will you teach the principles (books, activities, etc.). How will your children be held accountable and rewarded?
  4. Unleash Talent: How will you nurture your children’s gifts. How will your children be involved in planning and goal setting? Will they be empowered or micro-managed?

Finally, Covey suggests incorporating a tradition that A.B. Combs created, called the “strategic pause.” He calls it “recompassing.” I loved this idea and will be teaching it to my children for sure!

It involves having students/your children pause for a few minutes, take a drink of water, stretch their bodies, look toward the light, and think of something hopeful. It is a way of re-energizing and refocusing them.

In closing, I will share a beautiful quote found in the book by Helen Keller, whose own challenges led her to be a mentor to many children:

Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore…and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without a compass…and had no way of knowing how near the harbour was. ‘Light! give me light!’ was the wordless cry of my soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour. – Helen Keller

May all of our children be shown the way, with love, light, and leadership.

Have a great week!

Monique

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

by cruel shoes

“I didn’t set out to get you to quit your job or to persuade you to become an entrepreneur or merely to change the entire world. All I wanted to do in this book was to sell you on being the artist you already are. To make a difference. To stand for something. To get the respect and security you deserve.”

It is clear to me that Godin’s goal in writing this book (Linchpin) is simple: Know your power. Live your art. Have no regrets. If you do these three things, you may very well achieve the fulfillment in life you’ve always desired; enjoy your career and hobbies, and be surrounded by individuals who truly see you, appreciate you, and want you to thrive. In fact, they won’t be able to live without you.

You can’t live this kind of life if you let your lizard brain dominate. No. Surrender the cog tendencies of conformity, obedience, and compliance. Instead, you should embody passion, compassion, dignity, humanity, and generosity. Know your gifts and be generous with them. Connect with others in meaningful ways with your gifts. This cycle of gift giving should never end. Be indispensable.

Because so many of us at times feel stuck in our careers, however, I feel it is important to share Godin’s perspective of thinking– “My boss won’t let me.” Gosh, I’ve been there (just like you!), but how’s this for an “aha” moment:

“You think your boss won’t let you (be an “artist”), at the very same moment that your boss can’t understand why you won’t contribute more insight or enthusiasm. In most non-cog jobs, the boss’s biggest lament is that her people won’t step up and bring their authentic selves to work.”

Does this change your mind at all? See…it all truly lies within. Don’t give your power away, embrace it and decide to be a Linchpin. As we’ve discussed in earlier blogs this month, being a Linchpin is a CHOICE.

How can you be more authentic and bring more insight and enthusiasm to your job? Imagine that you are doing so in this moment and see how energized you feel.

If you are still a bit stuck with finding your “art,” ponder upon this question I came across on one of my favorite blogger’s (D. LaPorte) posting’s– “What’s dying to be born?” I just adore this question, and have written it on my work board so that I can ask it of myself over and over, so that I don’t stop creating my art.

And, now, I ask you… What’s dying to be born?”

Wouldn’t it be great if your co-workers and your boss begin to ask you, “Who are you, and where have you been hiding?” Nice.

Know your power. Live your art. Have no regrets. Go do it.

I will leave you with some food for thought Godin shares at the end of the book (And, Seth, thanks for the gift of your book!):

Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.

Sing in your own voice.

Do the work. Please.

Don’t worry about finding inspiration, it comes eventually.

You are responsible for your own experience.

Ignore everybody.

Avoid the water cooler gang.

The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.

Dying young is overrated.
………………………………………

Live young at HeART, and prosper!

Namaste,

Monique

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

Wrapping Up 2009

January 1, 2010

2009 was bright!

Participating in the #best2009 Blogging Challenge has been an easy and delightful way of remembering the small and simple things of 2009 that have made it special for me. I appreciate the Challenge, as I honestly don’t think I would have given myself the time to reflect on the year appropriately, thank it, and wrap it up like a nice gift! In fact, today, the first day of 2010, the visualization of me wrapping up my year, giving it away, and setting aside a nice, large box to fill for 2010 is my gift to myself.

So, I shall begin my New Year, by completing the Challenge and remembering a few more moments and people who helped to make my year.

Dec. 19 – Car Ride – Just yesterday, Dec. 31, 2009, my children and I dropped off daddy at a friend’s house and took the long way home…windows open, music kicking, and enjoying the beautiful homes and nurturing oak trees. This has always been a pastime for our family. In fact, it’s one of the ways we incorporate Visioning into our lives…imagining the perfect home for us and claiming it ours!

During the drive, Celine Dion’s “Taking Changes” inspired me further as I not only envisioned our future, but what this next year would hold for us. “What do you say to taking chances, what do say to jumping off the edge, never knowing if there is solid ground below, or a hand to hold, or hell to pay. But, what do you say?” I say go for it!

The ride and the song gave me the right energy to begin 2010. And, I believe my daughter felt the same. When we arrived home, she said, “Mommy, let’s go on another ride!” Anytime, baby.

Dec. 20 – New Person – Melissa Izquierdo is not a stranger to me. She has been working in our office for many years. But, this year, she was “gifted” to me, so to speak, as my right hand in the office. All I can say is what a gift she is, indeed! Life and work become so much more pleasurable when you have a partner by your side who cares about the quality of our work, and enjoys learning and growing along the way! She is a true professional, a shining star, and I’m very grateful for her. Thanks for all you do, Mely!

Mely

Dec. 23 – Web Tool – Hands down, the iPhone!! Need I say more? 🙂 Those of you who are iPhone users get me. You can read one of my recent blogs that gives you a glimpse as to how I use it to be productive.

Dec. 26 – Aha Moment – This year was about self-discovery for me. I immersed myself in books, concepts, skills, and more so that I could reinvent myself. Why? It was time. The gift in the process was understanding that while it is essential to create a powerful vision for your life and move toward it with action and passion, your “purpose” lies in living your vision in the moment…finding joy in everything that you do and being grateful for all of the joys and lessons life brings. “Therefore, I AM, and I AM NOW. Ahhh!”

Dec. 29 – Biggest Belly Laugh – Gosh, I’ve had a lot of laughs this year and I am grateful for all of those moments, because, as we know, laughter adds more years to our lives! One that made me laugh so hard that I cried was watching my son (11) breakout into an uninhibited hip-hop dance. It was so genuine, and so filled with passion, and it was so good, too! We were all outside enjoying a cool night and a bonfire, playing music, when an old 80’s tune came on that just lit a spark in him. I wish I had a video camera to capture the moment. Regardless, it is imprinted in my heart forever.

I think that will do it for this Challenge, although there are so many more moments, people, experiences and things I will cherish about this past year. Thanks for the memories, 2009.! I’m wrapping you up and gifting you back to the universe.

I’d like to close with this great quote that inspired me today from Martha Beck:

“By creating plans and acting on them you create an energy zone of clarity and power. That alone can change your life.”

What plans, or thoughts of 2010 are revving you up? I’d love to hear from you.

Go create some great plans for 2010 that will energize you and propel you forward.

My best wishes to you and yours for a magnificent and miraculous year.

Monique

Related Posts:  Set an Intention for the New Year, Your Top 10.

Vision Quest

August 31, 2009

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     I was channel surfing yesterday and came across an old 80’s flick you may remember—Vision Quest.  If you’re my age—let’s just say “in the late 30’s”— and you are a female, chances are you will definitely remember this movie, since Madonna had a cameo in it as a bar performer, singing her hit love song, “Crazy for You.” I think I was around 13 or 14 when that song and movie came out, and who didn’t have a crazy crush at that age, right? So, when I first watched Vision Quest, the thing I remembered most about the movie was the love story…the crush…the first love.

When I saw it this time, however, my perspective was completely different. What caught my attention was this 18 year old’s insatiable quest for success—his relentless pursuit for excellence. His belief in himself and in his capabilities was un-matched; his excitement was so high it was untouchable.  Simply put, his vision was focused, powerful and tangible.

We all have goals. Perhaps not all of them are at the forefront of our mind and of our lives, but what if at least one of them was, just as it was for the young man in the movie? How would achieving just one major goal change your life?

Author Jack Canfield—“America’s Success Coach” believes that it is essential to have a Breakthrough Goal. This is not just any goal, this is a goal that, if accomplished, will “represent a quantum leap for you,” not just an incremental improvement. Within our team at the office we are focusing on goal-setting and achievement as well as the identification of at least one breakthrough goal. Why? It’s so easy to set goals that are reachable, especially those that are expected of us in some capacity, either at work or at home. I bet one of these goals will come to mind for you right now as one did for me. However, it’s usually those things that we truly want to achieve, dreams we want to breathe life into, which we shy away from. These goals make us work so much harder than we are used to and show the world (especially ourselves!) what we’re made of. These are the goals that allow us to shift our paradigms, re-define ourselves, and shout out, “Wow, I really can do this!”

The best part about the movie was how by having a vision and sticking to it, the character inspired so many around him as well—his classmate who was abused by his father, the local chef who never had the chance to do what he dreamed of, the older girl—his first love—who was lost and hated the world, and his grandfather, who felt hope again after experiencing his grandson’s determination and achievement.  He actually inspired his entire town. He was a beacon of light and hope.

You see, when we witness the achievement of breakthrough goals by others, we are inspired, even if only for a moment, to do something extraordinary with our lives; to take a risk, push harder than ever, and stay the course. How can we extend that moment long enough to help us create our own breakthrough moment? I’d love for you to ponder this question with me this month.

How crazy are you for a breakthrough? I’m ready for my vision quest! Are you?

As we’ve discussed in my previous blogs, November and December provide us with perfect opportunities to think about how we can center ourselves through mindful meditation, with music, or by just being. But during these joyful, yet hectic months, I find that it is always a great time to think about what we value most and to create ways to honor those values we hold dear. Why? The holidays themselves are a ritual, so why not evaluate how to strengthen this ritual as well?

Just recently, my husband and I had a conversation surrounding our family values. And we both agreed that this was one area of our life that we needed to pay more attention to. We decided that we wanted to introduce a few rituals into our week that would help us feel more united, provide our children with a deeper spiritual foundation, and mostly, to just enjoy each other’s company and be present, in the moment, with one another.

So, with only so many hours in a day, and the many stressors we deal with daily— like our busy careers, exercise, dinner, homework, etc., how do you introduce meaningful rituals into your routine? In my opinion, you do it slowly! Try one thing at a time, giving yourself time to evaluate if the new ritual is accomplishing the goal you had set out for it to achieve.

In our case, we decided to start by creating our Friday Night Family Night three times per month. Because we hardly ever eat dinner as a family, the one very important criteria of our Family Night is that we eat dinner together. The second and third criteria is that we have fun and laugh a lot, and that it is just the four of us. The kids are quite excited about it too, because each week one of them will choose what our activity will be, whether it’s the movies, the park, playing a game…and dinner of course! Maybe we’ll make home-made pizza, or bake cookies. The options are endless, and we love the spontaneity of it.

The second activity we plan to implement soon (again, the key is to introduce them slowly so as not to overwhelm yourselves!) is to set aside 30 minutes to read a short story (spiritually or values-based) with our children and to discuss its lesson. When do we do this proactively? Usually, we are teaching our children right from wrong after they have committed an action we don’t approve of. Or, we hope that by osmosis they will obtain this data during Sunday service. I really like the idea of having a short conversation with them, allowing them the opportunity to imagine what kinds of decisions they could make if they were involved in certain, perhaps tense or uncomfortable situations. Think of the power in that.

So, during this holiday season, which will seem to fly by, maybe you can take a moment to think of a value that is important to you, but is not necessarily reflected in your current activities. Would you like for that value to be more present in your life? How would your life be different if it were? How much time would it take to make that happen? Could 10 to 30 minutes make the difference? You don’t have to have children in order to live a more values-driven life. I would dare to say your life would be a bit more on purpose if you did.

And with purpose on my mind, I now wish each of you a purposeful and prosperous holiday season, filled with memorable rituals! May love and joy surround you and those you love during these special days and continue on in the New Year!

Monique