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Born to be Wild

May 7, 2014

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“According to this law [the law of Dharma], you have a unique talent and a unique way of expressing it. There is something that you can do better than anyone else in the whole world — and for every unique talent and unique expression of that talent, there are also unique needs. When these needs are matched with the creative expression of your talent, that is the spark that creates affluence. Expressing your talents to fulfill needs creates unlimited wealth and abundance.” Deepak Chopra

Are you born to be wild, or are you born to be quiet and focused?

Do you ever wonder why you make certain choices?

Why you do what you do?

Why you like certain things?

Why you are better at some things than others?

I remember being terrified about some of my MBA courses. I was excited about being challenged to think, explore and debate, but the thought of analyzing financial statements or evaluating a corporate merger made me shake in my bones! Well, there is a reason why, of course! I was not born to be a CFO or an Accountant, but I certainly was born to communicate, to learn and share what I’ve learned, and help others maximize their talents. Those specific MBA classes were certainly challenging, and I was certainly able to learn and apply some very important financial skills, but having me master those skills would forever be a waste of my time and gifts.

We know these things instinctually, I feel, but in our world of fixing “What’s wrong” we are often pressured to focus on what we are not and what we “should be.” This way of thinking, learning and living has become so engrained in our work and educational cultures, it’s no wonder individuals feel disengaged and “lost.” More and more I meet amazing, very accomplished people who want to deeply connect with who they are and be impactful in leading a life of deeper purpose.

As leaders, are we helping our team members contribute their best and grow in their strengths?

As parents, are we honoring our children’s unique talents and helping them to shine in what comes naturally to them?

These stats below tell us how crucial it is that we move in this direction:

Here’s what Gallup knows about using our talents:

  • People who know and use their talents and have the opportunity to use them at work are six times as likely to be engaged in their job.
  • People who know their talents and have the opportunity to use them at work are more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life.
  • People who use their strengths every day have 7.8% greater productivity.

Weakness fixing prevents failure.

Strengths-building leads to success.

Identifying our strengths and the strengths of others doesn’t have to be rocket science. You can do it through self-awareness, through input from others (on what you’re awesome at and examples of when you are at your best!), and you certainly can use one of the best tools out there—Gallup’s StrengthsFinder.

As a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach I not only love OWNING my strengths and making sure that I’m utilizing them to their fullest, but I also love helping others do the same. One of the most empowering things to do is share your strengths with others and honor YOU! So, I’m happy to share my top 5 with you:

LEARNER. MAXIMIZER. POSITIVITY.

INDIVIDUALIZATION. IDEATION.

Every time I read my talent themes my inner cheerleader does a back flip because I know that I am investing in them and making them stronger day-by-day.

Care to be inspired? Here’s someone who’s definitely using her strengths and non-apologetic about it. In fact, she’s rockin’ the medals!

Engagement numbers truly scare me. I picture the more than 70% of individuals in our workforce who are disengaged, bored, depressed and just working to collect a pay check and I am saddened. I imagine a world where we are all fully engaged and turned on, making things happen individually and together.

How are you maximizing your talents and gifts?

I’d love for you to share what you feel you were born to do.

Are you doing it?

Have you taken Strengths Finder? If so, please share your Top 5 with me!

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Wishing you a life well led,

Monique

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

Tech-NOTORIOUS!

November 9, 2009

apps Sitting at home for two days this week, helping my children heal from their colds, I found myself thinking about productivity…or the lack there of it (for me)!!

Especially for those of us who have children, or care for a sick or aging relative, it seems difficult at times to be consistent about reaching our goals and being as productive as we set out to be. Our perfectly planned days are thrown for a loop, and we (and those around us) must just deal with it. Energetically speaking, when this happens, we tend to work from our lower levels of energy (victimhood and conflict), because we feel at the effect of life.

These days, flexibility and adaptability are skills we all can maximize to help us manage the constant change we live with. The more I thought of it, the more excited I became in finding some solutions to help me manage my life in spite of my life!

So how could I be more flexible and adaptable? My mind immediately jumped to my “Wheel of Life” that I use to measure my satisfaction with certain areas of my life. Some of these include: Productivity, Creativity & Problem Solving, Influencing & Inspiring Others, Health & Wellness, Time Management & Balance, Family  & Parenting, Spiritual Awareness, and Fun & Enjoyment. I questioned further, what could I do when life says, “Not today, Monique! Change your plans!” How could I keep my life in motion without too much stopping and re-directing?

Then, a light bulb went off! “iPhone applications”, my mind told me! Sure, I’ve experimented with some fun applications, but what would happen if I—with intention—search for applications that are free or inexpensive which can help me work with my Wheel of Life, despite “life”?

The fun began! I was like a kid in a candy shop. I’m not quite finished yet, but here’s the beginning of a “techie” system to help me stay on track. I downloaded and/or purchased the following “apps” which correspond to one or more areas in my Wheel of Life:

Application Wheel of Life Area Intended Uses
Lock Box Productivity I finally have a place for all my passwords, especially for use out of the office.
Toodledo Productivity/Time Management For those of us who use the GTD (Getting Things Done method). Great for managing projects.
FastShop Productivity/Family & Parenting Holds all of my lists (grocery, drug store, holiday and birthday shopping).
My Thoughts+ Balance/Spirituality I’ve created my very own affirmation slideshow with music. Keeps my vision close to me.
Ask Inspiring Others                /Spirituality My daily dose of spiritual principals for myself and to inspire others.
MyDiary Creativity & Problem Solving The journal that I will use to summarize my day’s “aha” moments.
IdeaOrganizer Creativity & Problem Solving I live off of ideas! Here’s where I can track them all, with voice notes, photos, etc.!
Personal Assistant Productivity & (Financial) Balance Keeps my accounts up-to-date and at my finger tips, all in one place.
SixPackYoga Health & Wellness Need I say more?? Yoga for my abs, anytime, anywhere, and for as long as I’d like!
YogaStretch Health & Wellness Customized yoga programs with an instructor, music, and all!
NaturalCures Health & Wellness/Parenting A quick resource for at home and natural remedies.

Ideally, I’d be doing yoga at a studio, speaking to my health coach or doctor every time I had a health question, carry my journal with me wherever I go (as well as my project folders, grocery lists, daily planner, spiritual resources, affirmation index cards, vision boards, etc.). What a heavy bag that would be!! You get my drift, right? My iPhone is always with me, so I might as well take full advantage of it and make sure it supports my needs to help keep my Wheel of Life on its path.

I’ve just lightened my load tremendously, and given myself permission to be more flexible and adaptable (and more productive!). Essentially, I’ve made myself Tech-NOTORIOUS!

I would love to hear your ideas about using technology (or not!) to help you achieve your goals. What works for you that you can share with Being En Pointe readers? I hope you will share and experiment.

TECH it on!