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Happy Anniversary to Me!!

November 19, 2010

Being En Pointe is 2 years old today!

YAY!!

Last night I was  doing homework with my children when the thought came to me… “My blog anniversary must be any day now!” Well, since you may know by now that I don’t believe in coincidences, my timing was perfect; to the day to be exact. And, the timing of things gets even better. Last night I also learned that I was accepted as an affiliate for Hay House, my most cherished publisher of all my gurus!

Since this past year’s theme has been all about reading empowering and thought-provoking books via my Relaxed Book Club, I invite you to continue on this path with me of making the time, even if it’s only one page a day, to read a quality book that allows for that oh-so-amazing aha moment! I just love them. Don’t you?

So, I invite you to peruse Hay House and all of its inspiring offerings. Maybe someone in your life needs a good book to lift their spirits?

I guarantee you’ll find one at Hay House.

(Note: for some reason I’m having trouble attaching links to images/words today, so here’s the link to Hay House:                     http://bit.ly/9EuwlC .)


My Relaxed Book Club will become even more relaxed as I retreat more deeply into my new selections (I already have about 6 of them!) and the new insights that I just know I will share with all of you at just the right time. In the meantime, I will use this very special anniversary to contemplate how I’ve been En Pointe this past “blogging year” and how I will renew my blog’s purpose to passionately thrust me forward for another wonderful year of reflecting, sharing and transforming.

Thanks for your eyes and hearts, and for any LOL moments you’ve experienced via Being En Pointe and my Relaxed Book Club. I hope you will keep coming back for more. 🙂

Keep reading… Monique

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My Lil' Golfer

My review and implementation (at home) of The Leader in Me continues.

He stumped me! Yes, my son, Jacob. During our first 7 Habits discussion at I-Hop (I figured it would be easier over chocolate chip pancakes!), Jacob claimed he was already perfectly proactive. Part of me (the proud Mom) said, “You go, boy! Be proud of all you do!” And another part of me said, “You must be kidding me! Look at your room!!!” So, strategically, I decided I would keep the conversation very positive, focus on what is working well, and get him to Begin with the End in Mind first (Habit 2). I asked him, “What’s one thing you would absolutely love to achieve this year?” He answered, “Mom, I want to win first place in a golf competition.” Great! We have our first goal. My second question (back to Habit 1: Be Proactive) to him was, “What do you feel you need to do to achieve this goal?” He quickly answered, “Practice more.” Bingo.

In The Leader in Me, A.B. Combs uses a few techniques to keep the Habits ever-present for the children. First, all the children have a leadership role (mail carrier, greeter, safety patrol, critter keeper, etc.), and second, they keep a Data Notebook (3-ring binder) to track their goals and successes and share with students, teachers and parents. Although I am not adopting all of the exact strategies used in the book, I am using the same concepts. Both Nia and Jake picked their first Leadership Roles for home. Of course, I have plenty of roles I could assign to them, but that would defeat the purpose. I let them choose their roles, and I am committed to helping them feel successful and track their successes within their chosen roles.

Nia wants to be the leader of her new tortoise, Coney.  So, daily, we’ll coach her on what it means to be a leader for her pet. Jake decided he wants to be the leader of his room. Secretly, I think this means he wants to keep his little sister out of his room (LOL!), but we also will coach him around the power around this role. In fact, I had him observe one area of his room (that drives me crazy…see photo below), and I asked him, “What purpose does this area of your room hold for you?” His smart alec answer… “It holds my stuff.” Yeah…that’s obvious! So, I countered that answer by asking, “Okay, how could it better hold your stuff?” He responds, “Mom, this area of my room doesn’t bother me!” Gosh, he stumped me again! But, I didn’t let him win. Once again I focused on Habit 2 (this one seems to work well for Jake) by asking, “What do you think about making this your Golf Goal Space?” His eyes opened wide and he enthusiastically said, “Yes, Mom, I can already see it!” Okay….I pat myself on the back.

Yikes! Help me!

Instead of Data Books, we liked the idea of having a cork board for each of them in their rooms, where they could read the Habits daily, we (parents) could re-direct them to the Habits as necessary, and they also could post a photo reflecting one or more of their goals as if achieved. So, while Jacob wants to win a competition, Nia decided she wanted a dolphin on her board to reminder her of wanting to scuba dive (like father like daughter!). We’ll be working on those boards over the next week as well as getting Jake’s Golf Goal Space off to a good start.

Nia and I also read a beautiful new book, which nicely reflects Habits 1 and 2 as well as the 8th Habit, which is all about finding your voice and inspiring others to find theirs. The book, titled The Curious Garden, is a simple and beautiful story about a little boy who lives in a big, cold city with lots of big buildings. He finds some weeds growing up through an old, long train track, and decides he will help the plants flourish. Soon, the entire track is filled with beautiful gardens. His work later inspired others in the city to grow gardens, changing the energy of the city altogether. When I asked Nia how the boy was proactive, she said to me “Mom, he helped the garden grow and then other people grew gardens too!” I actually couldn’t believe she got it! I guess you CAN teach a 5-year-old how to be proactive! She loves the new word and is beginning to use it often. Bingo. Next week we will tackle Habits 3 and 4… Put First Things First, and Think Win-Win, while continuing to strengthen the first two.

So, Week 1 of infusing the 7 Habits into our world is feeling positive. In The Leader in Me it is clear that one of the reasons A.B. Combs was so successful is because the teaching of the Habits was ubiquitous. They didn’t teach one habit per month (referred to as character education) or just pick a few activities to initiate during the year. No. The Habits are built into EVERYTHING the school does. It has become the foundation for the school’s culture.

In closing, I’ll leave you with a simple song developed by an A.B. Combs kindergarten teacher to help her students remember Habit 1 (to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star):

Be Proactive Every Day,

Be Proactive, Stop and Think.

Even Though it’s hard to do,

I think you should try it too.

Be Proactive Every Day,

Be Proactive, Stop and Think.

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.

In Linchpin, Godin refers to “Ship” or “Shipping” as the action we take when we embrace our art energetically and “sprint,” or focus all of our effort on the art until we achieve our intended goal.


How do we know when it’s time to ship?
First, we need to ensure that we’ve silenced the resistance (or lizard brain) and selected the right art to ship. Let’s stop here. Are you asking yourself, “What do you mean the ‘right art’? We have more than one?” Absolutely. Take Godin’s example, here:

“Van Gogh wasn’t wired to paint. Paint was the medium available to him at the time. If he had lived today, perhaps he would have marketed organic tofu. It’s not predetermined that you’ll hold a paintbrush or write a symphony. That means you have to choose your art. It’s not preordained; there isn’t only one art for you…If you pick something that’s beneath you, then the resistance will win. Trivial art isn’t worth the trouble it takes to produce it…If it’s not, dream bigger.”


Remember that our lizard brain wants to distract us. It wants us to be workaholics who fill our hours with meaningless, busy work. When the lizard brain is at hand we choose bad ideas or trivial art, and either our feelings of anxiety or insignificance get the best of us.
Godin uses his own personal examples to show us how to SHIP. He shares,

“Am I some sort of prodigy? I don’t think so. I ship. I don’t get in the way of the muse, I fight the resistance, and I ship. I do this by not doing an enormous number of tasks that are perfect stalling devices, ideal ways of introducing the resistance into our lives.”

Here’s an easy-to-follow synopsis of his process for Shipping with a solid platform (with a nautical theme for fun!):


1. Choose your Destination (or art: project, idea, event, etc.). Make sure it is not trivial, but energizes you, inspires you, and brings out the artist in you.

a. Can’t find that inspiration? Give yourself 30 minutes to come up with 10 ideas! This type of brainstorming session quiets the lizard and enables us to sprint for a short period and connect with inspiration. I tried this yesterday. I focused on one topic—coaching, and within 10 SECONDS I came up with a great idea that I plan to put through this process.

2. Select your Ship Date and post it up on a wall where you see it daily. This is your non-negotiable launch date.
3. Go Fish. Fishing will definitely be a part of your journey. Use your preferred method to capture all of your ideas (index cards, journal, word doc, etc.)
4. Create Motion in the Ocean. Review what you’ve captured, and capture more (when you think you’ve brainstormed enough…do more of it!)
5. Map your Trip. What are the coordinates that will get you to your destination? This is when you take what you’ve captured and create your map (timeline, resources, business plan, etc.).
6. Round up your Crew. A ship does not endure with just its captain. It needs a solid crew. Gather those who can approve, cancel, suggest, own (investors) and who care about your Destination. Review your map with them. Make any changes to your plans based on their feedback.
7. Ship. Here’s the key, though. Only ship when you get the “YES” from your crew. Are they in or out? They are your platform and you need them in order to reach your destination.

So now that you’ve shipped, how do ensure you succeed? Godin offers the regimen of Leo Babauta, author of Zen Habits, which looks like this:

1. Attempt only one significant work a year.
2. Break it into smaller projects.
3. Find three tasks to accomplish each day that get you closer to completion.
4. Do these in less than one hour each day (focused work, or “sprinting”).

Today, take some time to ponder what your days are filled with. Are you being an artist today (or tomorrow, or the next day)? If your days happened to be filled with meaningless “cog” work, and you find yourself just “looking busy,” consider shaking things up. The lizard is definitely at play and is happy you are not tapping into your inner artist.
Do yourself a favor. Locate your destination. Chart your course. Be your own captain. Do it today.

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.

This month I’m blogging about Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. I’m really enjoying her book, mostly because of the way she really puts herself out there. Connecting with her through her very human experiences is easy to do. I love this excerpt in particular, because it touches upon several things—working on ourselves and not others, learning how to be in a state of non-judgment  (a trait of highly successful people), and not sweating the small stuff.

Here it is…

I had come to understand one critical fact about my happiness project: I couldn’t change anyone else. As tempting as it was to try, I couldn’t lighten the atmosphere of our marriage by bullying Jaime into changing his ways. I could work only on myself. For inspiration, I turned to the twelfth of my Twelve Commandments: ‘There is only love.’

A friend of mine was the source of that commandment. She came up with the phrase when she was considering taking a high-pressure job where she’d be working for a notoriously difficult person. The person handling the process told her, ‘I’m going to be honest with you. John Doe is very effective, but he’s an extremely tough guy to work for. Think hard about whether you want this job.’ My friend really wanted the job, so she decided, ‘there is only love.’ From that moment on, she refused to think critical thoughts about John Doe; she never complained about him behind his back; she wouldn’t even listen to other people criticize him. ‘Don’t your coworkers think you’re a goody-goody?’ I asked. ‘Oh, no’ she said. ‘They all wish they could do the same thing, too. He drives them crazy, but I can honestly say that I like John.

If my friend could do that for her boss, why couldn’t I do it for Jaime? Deep down, I had only love for Jaime—but I was allowing too many petty issues to get in the way. I wasn’t living up to my own standards of behavior, and then, because I felt guilty when I behaved badly, I behaved even worst.

From reading the passage you can assume that this “John Doe” truly is a difficult person, so what exactly did Rubin’s friend do to allow her to totally suspend judgment of her boss? Why couldn’t her co-workers do the same? I’d really love to know! In fact, if I knew her I would ask her:

  • “Why was it okay for you to take a position working for someone you knew was difficult?”
  • “What made it okay?”
  • “What are you doing, exactly, that others are not?”
  • “How are you able to completely ignore John Doe’s behavior and negative actions?”
  • “What have you learned about him that others have not taken the time to learn? How much of a difference has this made to your relationship?”

Her mantra, “There is only love,” definitely seemed to have worked. If you repeated this mantra in your head over and over in the moment someone was upsetting you or pushing your buttons, do you see how it could defuse your anger or aggression? For some people, especially in corporate environments, embracing others with “love” may seem a little mushy. I get it. But, if you bring compassion to the situation (instead of love), perhaps the results would be the same. What do you think?

If you continue to read The Happiness Project you will see how well this mantra, or commandment, works for Rubin. In fact, she decides that giving proofs of love will bring her loads of happiness. So, in closing, I’d like to share a quote by Pierre Reverdy, as Rubin did later in the book, as well as one of my daily inspiration reads from the Daily Kabbalah, which suits this discussion well:

“There is no love; there are only proofs of love. Whatever love I might feel in my heart, others will see only my action.” Pierre Reverdy.


“When we apply resistance in a situation and our opponent throws a bit of time into the space between resistance and reward, the spiritual Light we generate might not shine immediately. This creates the illusion that goodness doesn’t pay. Today, don’t seek an immediate result from your actions. Develop patience. Build your  certainty.”Daily Kabbalah

Give  only proofs of love and suspend judgment: a great recipe for happiness, I believe.

Have a great week. Happy reading.

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.

Be Inspired. Be Happy.

February 1, 2010

During this first year of blogging I’ve written about ways that we can improve ourselves and our lives—productivity, personal responsibility, living your vision, living in the moment, shifting out of low and negative energies, accessing your intuition, and more. Yet when I think about the underlying purpose of why and what I write, it always comes down to HAPPINESS…finding it for myself and helping others fill their spirits with it. When I am happy I am a better person. I am energized, helpful, grateful, inspired, ready to take action, ready to be of service. Everything just seems to flow when we are happy. Isn’t genuine happiness what we are really after?

So when I learned of Gretchen Rubin’s new book The Happiness Project I couldn’t resist and pre-ordered it. The book is Rubin’s year-long “project” to learn everything there is to know about the science of happiness as well as her personal journey to achieve greater happiness and fulfillment. It’s an easy and fun read, and very insightful.

So many of her lessons learned rang true for me and she posed questions, I feel, that we should all be asking of ourselves. Then, I remembered how many times friends and colleagues asked me “How do you know what to write about? What inspires you?” And it became crystal clear to me that what I read daily is a huge source of inspiration for me. It could be anything—a book, a magazine article, a prayer, or a quote. My process is always as follows…read…reflect…learn…take action…feel inspired…inspire others.

And then I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to share my process with other ‘students’ (like me), the books I am reading and applying to my life, and create a forum where we can share with each other and continue the process of reflecting, learning, taking action and feeling inspired?” I like it, and I’m taking action!

In launching this new idea (a part of my happiness project!) I’m going to choose an excerpt from The Happiness Project to get started. In fact, I will share quite a bit from Rubin’s book during the month of February—so it may feel like a “blog book club”. If you have ever wanted to take part in a book club, but perhaps a more relaxed version, here’s your chance! I hope you will participate with me.

So, in this first excerpt Rubin shares,

“It was time to expect more of myself. Yet as I thought about happiness, I kept running up against paradoxes. I wanted to change myself but accept myself. I wanted to take myself less seriously—and also more seriously. I wanted to use my time well, but I also wanted to wander, to play, to read at whim. I wanted to think about myself so I could forget myself. I was always on the edge of agitation; I wanted to let go of envy and anxiety about the future, yet keep my energy and ambition…Was I searching for spiritual growth and a life more dedicated to transcendent principles—or was my happiness project just an attempt to extend my driven, perfectionist ways to every aspect of my life?”

Wow! This hit me right in the gut. “This is me,” I told myself.  In fact, the last line really made me question… “When is enough…enough?” Maybe this rings true for you as well. And perhaps even more so if you consider yourself a high achiever or overachiever as I have practically all my life. And in my daily quest to feel fulfilled and “happy” these paradoxes always show up.

So what’s one of my paradox’s you may be asking? I would say that worrying about tomorrow versus living in the moment is one I struggle with, but enjoy working on. It truly is a work in progress, but I can say that the more I am conscious of my tendencies and practice being in the moment, the happier I feel. A second example would be getting the 7 to 8 hours of sleep I need versus being a member of the 5:30 am “productivity club.” These two, believe me, are only a few of the paradoxes I experience daily. Do you have any that you would like to share?

So how do you manage these paradoxes in your quest for productivity, improvement, growth, and happiness? Well, here are four tips which work for me as well as for many of the magnificent high achievers I have the pleasure of coaching.

  1. Understand that many of the things we feel we “must” do are fear based. The majority of our “must do’s” and “should have’s” are a result of learned behavior. Do these sound familiar? — “If you don’t fight for it, you won’t get it”, or “You must work long, hard hours to make it to the top.” Claiming these beliefs as false is difficult, but can be eased greatly when we confront and work with our limiting beliefs and gremlins (those little voices in our head that tell us that we can’t do something or that we are not good enough). When we challenge these, we reduce the paradoxes that may prevent us from pushing forward.
  2. Breathe and give yourself positive self-talk in the moment. For example, when my daughter needs my full attention, while I feel that I must keep working, I literally stop what I am doing, take a deep breath and ask myself, “How true is it that my work will suffer if I don’t finish what I am doing in this very instant?” My answer is always, “not very true!” You also can ask yourself, “What is most important in this moment and why?” You will find your own answers. Your positive self-talk can take the form of an affirmation as well. When I am hit with the paradox of “I want to exercise more and I also want to rest more,” which drives to the heart of my self-esteem if I fail, I use this affirmation, “I love myself exactly as I am,” and I always feel better.
  3. Rely on your Top Ten List. If you have taken the time to create a list of values or ideals that guide your life (as Rubin recommends), it becomes easy to make these decisions while dropping the guilt we may feel. For example, one of my Top Ten Principles is “No more Mommy guilt!” So, when my son or daughter “needs me” during a particular time period that I have claimed for myself (like a well deserved bubble bath!), then I have no problem saying “not right now,” and I can release the guilt associated with saying “no.” You also can view Rubin’s Twelve Commandments (as she calls them) here.
  4. Adopt this simple, yet powerful life principle…
    Each moment describes who you are and gives you the opportunity to decide if that’s who you want to be
    .
    Having a principle like this in our Top Ten or Twelve Commandments gives us permission to take our goals in stride and focus on today and what we need today to make us happy.

The more I read the excerpt the more I giggle, because how else would we feel when we are so close to achieving a breakthrough? If making positive changes that create more happiness in our lives were easy then we wouldn’t be talking about self-improvement so much. In fact, it would be “no sweat” setting and achieving these happiness goals. Paradoxes like these, then, serve to help keep us on track, so that the “aha moments” are in the process itself, not in the achievement.

I can’t wait to share more excerpts of this FAB book and many others. I also look forward to hearing your perspective and celebrating your moments (“aha” and otherwise) with you.

If you would like to join my Relaxed Book Club, make sure to subscribe (right-hand column) to receive my blog entries, and add your comments so we can have a nice discussion! And, as you guessed it, The Happiness Project is off the shelf and in my hands this month!

In the spirit of inspiration and happiness,

Monique