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Maybe you’ve experienced this funny phenomenon as well! I never put much thought into it except to giggle over it, but yesterday it certainly caught my attention. As I was going for a power walk I noticed how all of the lizards on the sidewalks just hang out on the sidelines and only dare to cross the very moment my foot lifts to take another step. It’s actually quite scary, since every step I take I feel like I’m going to squish one of these little guys! However, they always seem to make it across! I’m thinking they’re stupid and careless, but what do they know that I don’t?

My thoughts then quickly shifted to us humans and our tendencies to stay on the sidelines— sometimes for way too long. What is it about lizards that make them act so quickly and go all in when the danger is at its peak?

Well, our “lizard brain” tends to either freeze, fight, or flight when we feel in danger. It’s that primal, instinctive part of our brain that is always trying to protect us. Certainly, those big visions we want to go after can be just as frightening as they can be exciting. And I wonder how throwing ourselves into the perceived danger can get us that much closer to where we want to go, and sometimes, where we know we need to be. Achieving “success” also can be fearful in and of itself, because then we may wonder what happens when we “get there”? We may ask, “How will my life change, and can I live up to that change?” Perhaps, instead, we should be asking ourselves, “What if I never change? Will I be content with my life staying as is?”

If you find yourself in that scenario, like a lizard looking up at a big shoe about to drop, consider asking yourself:

  • What about this fear is true?

  • Is this just my lizard brain trying to protect me?

  • What’s the worst that could happen if I felt the fear and did it anyway?

  • Without fear would it be as meaningful?

How could our lives shift dramatically toward our vision if we actually began to embrace fear, as if it were a marker that we were on our true path?

Gosh…I get excited thinking about It. Do you?

What are you fearing right now that’s keeping you on the sidelines?

I guess it’s no coincidence that lately I’ve been surrounded by so many amazing individuals who are breaking through their fears and finding major breakthroughs on the other side. I find that it’s much easier to go all in when you’re not the only one doing it!

As the amazing Brené Brown says, “You can’t find courage without walking through vulnerability.” You think those little lizards aren’t vulnerable when they jump out in front of a huge, scary sneaker? They survive over and over, and so can we.

Are you fear FULL? Embrace it and move toward your dreams.

Namaste,

Monique

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Where do you want to go?

I bet you can remember a time when the most unlikely stranger made you go “hmm.” That’s right, he or she flew into your life just as quickly as he/she left, but definitely made an imprint. That’s the kind of feeling you get when reading The Energy Bus. The supporting character, “Joy” a bus driver, has been the miracle saver for the main character, George, whose life is in shambles. He is about to lose both his job and marriage, and has zero energy to do anything about it.

Meeting Joy was no accident, as George had no choice but to ride the bus to work when his car broke down and his wife refused to stop changing her plans to help him. What he didn’t know was that this “unfortunate situation” would be his life-changing opportunity. He didn’t just board any bus; he boarded the “Energy Bus.”

Joy is like the coach that everyone wants and needs; that friend you’d like to have in your pocket every time you need to be reminded of how truly great you have it and how much better things can be if you get out of our own way. Joy’s life purpose is evident; to get her passengers to embrace their lives, choose to live energetically, and bring others along for the ride. She does this by sharing her 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life with Positive Energy. Not only does Joy share these rules, but she has her “students” practice them with daily exercises, and holds them accountable to boot! Yep, she’s a coach all right!

After a few days of riding Joy’s bus, George’s energy had shifted dramatically. Those around him began to see a difference, he felt a difference, and having to ride a bus wasn’t so bad after all.

This book is an easy and quick read, but its message is timely and timeless.
Here are the first five rules with short take-a-ways:

1. You are the driver of your bus.

  • Why would you let other people and situations manage and/or manipulate your energy? Your energy is your “bus;” now steer it to where you want it to go!

2. Desire, Vision & Focus Move Your Bus in the Right Direction

  • How will you get to where you need to go without a map, a plan or support? Chart your course, get excited about it, and keep moving!

3. Fuel Your Ride with Positive Energy

  • Think of those people, activities, foods, and thoughts who/that energize you and those who/that drain you. Get the picture? Only you can fuel your ride with positive energy. Make smart choices.

4. Invite People on Your Bus and Share Your Vision for the Road Ahead

  • Positive energy is magnetic. Don’t keep your purpose and excitement to yourself. If you are authentic, others will want to match your energy and come along for the ride.

5. Don’t Waste Your Energy on Those Who Don’t Get on Your Bus

  • Yep. This is an important one. Negative energy will always be around, but where will you be? Stay away from the water cooler, folks!

I’ll close this post by sharing a few other bits of info Joy offered to George along the way, which made me go “hmm.” Maybe they will make you think a bit as well.

  • Did you know that most people who die pass on a Monday morning at 9 am? We can infer that a lot of people prefer to give up on their lives than go to work! Scary thought.What should your thoughts be aligned with on Monday mornings?
  • At the end of a long game golfers usually forget all of the bad shots they made and remember the one great shot they had that day. The thought and feeling they get when thinking about that particular shot makes them want to play again and again; this is why so many people get addicted to golf. I’ll have to ask my golfer friends if they agree with this one, but it sounds on par to me (hee hee!)What would happen if you would focus each day on the one great thing that you experienced? Would you be more energized to go into the next day and get excited about the opportunities that you know will come your way?

Food for thought.

I am on a wonderful Energy Bus this month; on a road trip with my family. It has been a lot of fun so far, and in those not-so-fun, stressful moments, I remember the 5 rules I shared with you above, and I remind myself that I have to be my own “Joy” and stay in charge of my bus.

Cheers to the rest of the ride!

May you all enjoy an energized 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.

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

by Laughing Squid

Some nice surprises have resulted since beginning our journey to teach our children the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Here are a few:

  • My son organized his desk (see before photo in my last post) on his own with no pushing! This is a quantum leap! (See After photo below).
  • He has begun to accomplish his goal of practicing golf 3-4 times per week.
  • In addition to being the “leader of his room”,  he, on his own, requested to do additional chores around the house, including walking the dog, helping with laundry, dusting his room, and keeping our windows clean. YAY!!
  • My daughter and I sing the kindergarten “Proactive Song” (see my last post), and she just loves it! We’ve invented some other cute songs relating to being proactive as well.
  • You’ll often hear her telling all of us spontaneously, “You’re not being proactive!” She gets it.

Jake's Desk - After

Gotta love it. The best part is that we haven’t even gotten that deep into the Habits. Up until this point, we’ve only covered Habits 1-4 lightly.  However, as the book warns , this process does not happen overnight. In fact, A.B. Combs’ success came about over time. As Stephen Covey tells us,

“A.B. Combs is nearly a decade into the leadership theme, and much of what appears (in these chapters) came about piece by piece, gradually emerging over time.”

It has been interesting, especially, to observe my son over these few weeks. I’m perceiving that he’s feeling a sense of empowerment through the Habits. It seems logical that he would prefer to feel he has the power to choose how to lead (versus being told what to do and why) as well as knowing that we are placing our trust in him to make decisions which are best for him. Either way, he better understands that his actions, regardless, will lead to consequences–positive or negative.

I can see how it would be important to weave the Habits into all that we do so that they simply become a part of us. The children are more inclined to let me speak about the Habits as we are experiencing (in the moment) great ways of using them,  as opposed to sitting down and having a “lesson”.  The language used by the teachers and students as described in the book suggest how they become second nature to them. They say things like, “(this is) The way we do things around here“; “We dwell in possibilities here“; “You did such a marvelous job with your responsibilities“, etc.  When I refer to the Habits and my children give me push back, I simply say, “This is the way we do things around here,” and that’s the end of the conversation. The process is respected. I am also making sure to celebrate their successes.

What’s next? Well, my plans are to continue working in the Habits over time. Because I’ve practiced the Habits myself, I already know that it is important to master the first three, which deal with self-mastery, before moving ahead into the next three, which focus on collaboration. But, mostly, what excites me is the process of unleashing our family’s leadership culture. What A.B. Combs has mastered is to create a unique and deep leadership culture. And, according to The Leader in Me, these are the factors that helped them create this culture:

  • Behaviors (i.e., leadership roles, data notebooks, classroom mission statements, etc.)
  • Language (i.e., “We focus on the positive”; “We are all leaders”; “We honor the greatness in you”.)
  • Artifacts (i.e., murals, posters and artwork expressing the Habits)
  • Traditions/Rituals (i.e., Leadership Day, Celebrate Success Hour, service projects, etc.)
  • Folklore (stories that have arisen since day 1 of implementation and continue to be shared year after year)

I remember attending a Franklin Covey workshop on the 7 Habits, where everyone in the room represented the business community except for three individuals. When it came time for them to introduce themselves they shared how they were a family (mother and two daughters) who had begun practicing the Habits as a family and recently developed their Family Mission Statement. I was in awe. I remember telling myself,

“Now that is one empowered family! I will do that one day.”

Well, that day has arrived.

If I ask myself what our family culture is, I am not sure I have a clear answer. Using the factors listed above, I plan to move us into the direction of establishing clear examples of how we will bring about this 7 Habits culture in an authentic way; in a way that will make us all proud. After all, wouldn’t it be just as important for families to have a strong, effective culture as it is for companies?

by O ox X

In closing, I’ll share with you A.B. Combs’ Mission and Vision for a bit of inspiration:

MISSION

To Develop Leaders One Child at a Time.

VISION

To Live, to Love, to Learn, to Leave a Legacy.

We Live by striving to be the best we can be.

We Love by caring for others.

We Learn by working hard in the school and always doing our best.

We Leave a Legacy by sharing our school with others and trying to make a difference in the world.

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.

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.

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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 vision_quest_1985_685x385

     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?