Posts tagged with ‘own your life’

21 sep

Technology vs. Instinct and Common Sense: Are Smart Phones Making Us Stupid?

Kerrigan2I live in New York–one of the most fast-paced and exciting places in the world. It can also be one of the most dangerous places too. You need to be on your toes here, and aware of your surroundings. Otherwise, the consequences could be severe, even fatal.

However, one thing I’m noticing more and more lately is the rising addiction to smart phones, and people looking down, when they should be looking up. Smart phones are called that because of their technical capabilities. But are they harming our human capabilities? Our instinct and common sense?

I realized that, in the last month alone, I’ve seen 5 people almost get hit by bikes, cars, or taxis as they cross the streets in midtown, oblivious to the world around them.  And, recently, I read that the number of teens who are dying or being injured as a result of texting while driving is skyrocketing. In fact, texting is now surpassing drinking and driving as the prime hazard among that age group. And from what I see on the road, I can imagine the numbers are rising in adult accidents and fatalities too.

Then there’s another, less life-threatening , more career-threatening habit: Employees texting and tweeting while their bosses or company CEOs are speaking.  Or commenting on facebook when they should be working.

There are also the people dining out and gathering at bars everywhere, glued to their tiny screens and unaware of the life-sized action around them.  And, how many of us are so busy focusing on capturing a photo for facebook instead of actually experiencing and enjoying the moment? Just think of the last concert or public event you attended—did your smart phone make a guest appearance?

All this has led me to wonder:

Is all this reliance on technology endangering our lives?

Are we losing our ability to read a room and read the street? To hold a face-to-face conversation?  To listen and comprehend? Are our natural instincts, common sense and early warning devices being jeopardized by our handheld devices? Are we letting social media replace social grace, and distraction replace engagement, costing us our jobs, our friends, our experiences and our lives?

In other words: are our smart phones making us stupid?

Maybe it’s time to put the phones down, look up, and find out.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace success who helps clients develop the practical skills and confidence they need for high performance and productivity.

Based on her 25 years’ leadership experience, Michelle provides an invaluable road map for conquering fear and doubt, navigating change and solving day-to-day challenges, resulting in higher efficiency, improved leadership and teamwork, and stronger professional and revenue growth. Michelle also writes and speaks on the impact self esteem has on success, and produces a series for public TV, entitled Workplace Confidence. More at www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on September 21st, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change, Health, Personal Stories, Technology | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

16 may

For Women Who Want to Be Leaders: Change Begins and Ends with You

Kerrigan2Recently, I attended a symposium focused on women entrepreneurs. The big questions were: Why aren’t there more women entrepreneurs? More women CEOs? More women at the top?

Of course, the first target of discussion was men. They are the problem.

Ladies—this is wrong and you know it.

As I listened to cries of “men don’t treat us as equals in the board room”, and “they don’t take us seriously,” the first reason came to mind: it’s how we perceive ourselves that matters. Trust me, I’ve chaired enough high powered meetings where I’ve been the only woman, and, anyone who knows me knows I can hold my own. That’s because I don’t look around the room and say—“wow, these are all high-powered men.” I just see them as colleagues, teammates, equals.

We are never a minority, unless we think like one.

So, change #1: Think of yourself as an equal. Stop walking into the board room with preconceived ideas, a chip on your shoulder, or looking for differences. We are all created equal.

Now—back to the meeting….. While there was a loud cry of inequality, a female law partner, who headed the panel, told a different story.

This woman spoke of her experience as an associate moving up the ranks, always being backstabbed by other women associates. She vowed that when she made it big, she would help other women, because she knew what it felt like to be hurt. I’ve seen her in action. She kept her promise.

Moral of the story: once you storm the citadel, don’t shut the gates behind you.

Which brings me to change #2: Women need to be better team players. Maybe the guys have an advantage because they’ve played more team sports as kids. I’m not sure. I am sure that leaders need to be exemplary team players. In some of the talks I’ve given, we’ve discussed great attributes of team players, and how to assess ourselves. The top descriptions are: reliable, supportive, positive, adaptable and accessible. Does this describe you? If it doesn’t, then remember: the only person you control is you. Your thoughts. Your behavior. That’s how you become a better you, a better teammate, a better leader.

And this brings me to change #3: We need to stop trying to change, correct—or should I say, “fix”—other people. C’mon—if you have a husband, boyfriend, or significant other, you know what I’m talking about.

I was just in a creative seminar where we were broken out into groups. My group contained four men, one other woman, and me. Our task was to come up with our own book titles, and then help each other develop chapters. We were to get our creative juices flowing by collaboration and free thinking—no editing our thoughts. The guys shared ideas without any judgment. Then the other woman chimed in. Many of her ideas were great, but, she spoiled it by constantly criticizing the way I spoke. She told me not to start any of my sentences with the word “but”, and constantly interrupted my creative flow by trying to correct me. But, I wasn’t looking for her to change me. I was looking for her to help me.

You see, no matter how much we might try, the only people we can control and change are ourselves. We can’t control men, the world, injustice and bad things that happen to us. The only things we have power over are our own thoughts and actions.

Taking control of ourselves in a more supportive and less critical way gives us more confidence and self esteem. That’s what it’s really all about.

When we change ourselves for the better, and feel good about who we are, there are no barriers. Positive change begins and ends with us. And there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it!

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan. All Rights Reserved.

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert consultant and coach who specializes in helping clients achieve workplace success by developing the practical skills they need to improve their confidence, performance and productivity. More at www.michellekerriganinc.com and www.workplaceconfidence.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on May 16th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

01 jan

Empty the Cup

RickHansonAre you full to the brim?
The Practice:
Empty the cup.
Why?

Once upon a time, a scholar came to visit a saint. After the scholar had been orating and propounding for a while, the saint proposed some tea. She slowly filled the scholar’s cup: gradually the tea rose to the very brim and began spilling over onto the table, yet she kept pouring and pouring. The scholar burst out: “Stop! You can’t add anything to something that’s already full!” The saint set down the teapot and replied, “Exactly.”

Whether it’s the blankness of a canvas to an artist, the silence between the notes in music, bare dirt for a new garden, the not-knowing openness of a scientist exploring new hypotheses, an unused shelf in a closet or cupboard, or some open time in your schedule, you need space to act effectively, dance with your partners, and have room around your emotional reactions.

Yet most of us, me included, tend to stuff as much as possible into whatever room is available – room in closets, schedules, budgets, relationships, and even the mind itself. Read more »

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on January 1st, 2012 in General, Health, Relationships, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , ,

07 oct

Feel Cared About

RickHansonWhen Have People Been Caring?
The Practice
Feel cared about.
Why?

Everyone knows what it’s like to care about someone. Remember being with a friend, a mate, a pet: you feel warmly connected, and want him or her not to suffer and to be happy.

On the other hand, you’ve probably had the sense, one time or another, of not being cared about. That you didn’t matter to another person, or to a group of people. Maybe they weren’t actively against you, but they sure weren’t for you.

As soon as you recall a time like that, it’s immediately clear why it’s important to feel cared about – which is to the heart what water is to your body.

Sometimes we feel embarrassed about our yearnings to be cared about. But they are completely normal – and deeply rooted in evolution. Love, broadly defined, has been the primary driver of the development of the brain over the last 80 million years.

Our ancestors – mammals, primates, hominids, and humans – survived and flourished and passed on their genes by learning to find good mates, bond with their young, draw males in to provide for children, create “the village it takes to raise a child” whose brain is quadrupling in size after birth and thus needs a long and vulnerable childhood, and team up with each other to compete with other bands for scarce resources.

In this context, being cared about was crucial to survival. Mammals, etc. that did not care about being cared about did not pass on their genes. No wonder you care about being cared about!

Studies show that feeling cared about buffers against stress, increases positive emotions, promotes resilience, and increases caring for others. Plus it feels darn good. Read more »

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on October 7th, 2011 in Family, General, Relationships, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , ,

28 oct

Get Ready to Pass the Baton

JayForteAs parents we all love to think our kids are great at everything. We love it when they walk early, talk early, excel in art class, earn good grades and are athletic. We brag, we boast – we feel so proud. It’s natural.

But nature, biology and even divine intervention seem to feel that we aren’t good at everything – that we should specialize. We are all different and must learn to understand ourselves to know our specific talents, strengths and passions – those attributes unique to each of us – so we can learn to find our best fit in today’s world. And when we find our place, we can create our best and most personalized lives – lives that are just right for us.

Inspired by our DNA are brain connections that are strong in some areas and weak in others. Early in our brain development, the brain allows the weaker connections to wither, allowing our strongest connections to lead. These connections create our personality, preferences, talents, strengths and passions. We are hardwired in very particular ways and our greatest performance (and happiness) happens when we understand this hardwiring and use it to make meaningful decisions about our work and life.

Science supports that we are good at some things and not others; we love some things and not others. Our greatest impact happens when we play to what we are intrinsically good at. We start to know this as we reach our later teenage years. Some realize it sooner, some later. But to realize what we are good at and are passionate about takes effort. It takes work. It takes work that each of us must do; we can’t do this work for our kids.

As parents, our role is to get them ready so we can pass them the baton of life – to be capable of taking it and running their life’s race. They choose where, how fast, with whom and how to run.

We are their coaches and trainers. We help them see their greatness – their talents, strengths and passions. We introduce them to the world so they can start to determine their best place – their best fit. We introduce them to the world so they realize they have choices – and the best choices will be those that allow them to play to what they are great at and passionate about. To be able to make these choices, they must know themselves and their world. And we bring all this together for them when they are young. We help them they discover the unique gifts they are born with and start to find their best place in the world that lets be who they were created to be.

When each of my three daughters graduated from high school, we hosted a “passing of the baton” ceremony. We explain that in the past 18 years, we have worked to help them discover who they are and have tried to show each of them how big the world is – to see all that is available. But when the baton is passed, they will own it all – their direction, success, happiness and choices. They will need to find their best fit – their place in their world – to be happy and thrilled by life each day. This is what is required to take the baton – to own your life.

We are still available for counsel and conversation but they must use all that they have seen to start to make wise personal choices – not to please us, be who we think they are supposed to be, or live as we feel they must – but, rather, to define happiness and success for themselves. We don’t tell them who to be. We remind them they must be the best at whatever they choose – and their best and happiest lives will be built around what they are good at and are passionate about doing.

Each of my three daughters has chosen wisely for herself; each took the baton and has owned her decisions, career and life. We may not always agree with the choices, but we realize they now own and invent their lives – as we did so many years ago. It is a wobbly process to start but with the right coaching, they learn very quickly to make good decisions.

Someone told me once that the worst thing a parent can hear their child say is “I have a miserable life.” We want our kids to be successful, but must also realize that success in our eyes may not be success in theirs. Maybe the better line is that we want our kids to love their lives and be thrilled by life each day.

So how can you coach your children well, to be ready to take the baton when it is passed to them:

1. Spend meaningful time with your kids and let them share what they think, feel and love. Listen generously.

2. Expose them to many things; many times our kids become things or do things because they didn’t know greater things were available. One of my favorite ways of showing kids the great choices in the workplace is to Google “job titles.” The sites show titles of jobs that many of us never knew we could be. It expands their options.

3. Watch the personal biases and judgments as kids start to connect to what matters most to them. An impartial approach allows kids to consider everything.

4. Careers and interests don’t always follow from parent to child. Allow children to search for those things that capture their interest, and always require them to see how what they are interested in fits in today’s world (they still have to make a living and move out of the house!).

Our kids are great – at some things. And effective coaches help their players (or kids) discover the things they are good at and then work hard to get better in those areas. This allows them to move from good to great. And to be successful in life, you must find your thing, then be great at it.

For me, the greatest success as a parent is a happy and passionate son or daughter – one who loves his/her life and does each day what he/she does best. That is success in my book. I don’t need or want my kids to be like me – unless that is what they want. Besides, the world needs us all to be different, to add the texture, color and richness of ideas and impact. We invent our world by those who live in it at this moment. To have the best world, we need everyone in their “greatness zone” – that place where they are connect to their best and share it with all of us. Help them get ready to take the baton and live their greatness.

Jay Forte is a business and motivational speaker, performance consultant and life coach. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and The Greatness Zone; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform Your World. Jay guides organizations – their leaders and managers – in how to attract, hire and retain today’s best talent. He coaches individuals how to reconnect to their talents and passions to achieve extraordinary personal and professional performance – to live their greatness. More information at www.LiveFiredUp.com and www.TheGreatnessZone.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jay Forte on October 28th, 2010 in Career, Family, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality, Teens | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

17 aug

Chart Your Own Course

JayForteI grew up in a very Italian family. And by “very” I mean the strong traditions that came directly from Italy guided many aspects of our daily lives. This included parents who felt it was their responsibility to tell you who you were supposed to be – how to live, what to believe and what work to do. At least that is how things started.

The good news is we were also raised to be independent. And independent people don’t like to be told how to live, what to believe and what to do. That independence was the key for my siblings and me to determine that our lives belonged to us and that the key to our happiness and success would be for us to make critical life decisions for ourselves.

Though we had loving and well-intentioned parents, their perspectives of who we were and how we should live were nothing more than their perspectives. We did listen to their suggestions but determined the loudest voice directing our lives should be our own. This process was not without conflict. Nothing good ever comes without challenge because challenge helps us develop our own voice, see others’ perspectives and take responsibility for our decisions.

I firmly believe that each of us is hardwired for greatness – we have a customized combination of talents, strengths and passions that allow us to be good at some things and not others. We love some things and not others. And no matter how close we may be to our families, they can never know how we think and feel as well as we know. We must always be the voice that decides what is right for us – in work and in life. We must always know the facts, then own the decision. We must chart our own course.

Though my five siblings and I are part of the same family, and all close in age, none of the six of us has the same hobbies, the same careers or the same attitudes about politics and church; we have always been very different. Though I greatly appreciate the effort and intent of parents who felt compelled to tell us what to do with our lives, we all clearly saw that both our happiness and success required each of us to make these decisions for ourselves.

No one can know me like I know me. No one can identify my passions and talents as I can. And I honestly feel it is intended to be like this. Our lives are our gift. Part of appreciating the gift is in the anticipation and excitement of unwrapping it. We unwrap our lives as we live them. We get acquainted with more and more of who we truly are by living each day – by spending time noticing how we think, what we love, how we feel and what impacts us.

The more self-aware we become, the more information we have about what matters to us. The more we know ourselves, the better road we can chart for ourselves. I don’t want your road – you don’t want my road. My road is customized for me; yours should be customized for you. No one can do this customization except for us. And if we choose not to do it, or never learn how, then we live our lives according to how others tell us we should live. And I personally believe we then live only a fraction of our lives and never realize the our greatest purpose and value to ourselves and to our world.

There are many well-intentioned friends, colleagues and families who are loaded with advice on how we should live, who we should love and where we should work. Go ahead and listen to what they say. Consider everything. Then, value your own perspective about what is right for you more than what other says.

To help you customize your road, answer the following:

1. What is fun for you, and how do you add it into your day?

2. Who matters to you and how do you include them in your life each day?

3. What is critical for you and how do you address it each day?

4. What inspires you and how do you have more of it each day?

5. What challenges you and how do you learn to grow from it each day?

You own your life – and all that goes with it. Chart the right course for you so that each day you wake, you love the life you lead and make your greatest impact on those around you and on your world.

Jay Forte is a business and motivational speaker, performance consultant and life coach. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resources, Stand Out and Get Hired, and The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual. His new book, The Greatness Zone; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform Your World, will be available in October 2010. He teaches people to connect to their talents and passions to be fired up! in life and at work. More information at www.LiveFiredUp.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jay Forte on August 17th, 2010 in Career, Family, General, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

15 may

What Are You Waiting For?

JayForte“I’ll start going to the gym next month.”

“I’ll stop drinking after I get back from vacation.”

“I’ll call my parents on the weekend.”

“I’ll eat better next week, after this project at work is over.”

“I should really spend more time with the kids.”

So many of us talk about great things we should do, or things we should stop doing, then find some reason to put it off. I had a friend who would wait until the first day of the next month to start something new or to end a bad habit, regardless of the current day. Why wait? If it is important enough to do, start today.

As I travel and speak about connecting to your talents and passions, I constantly hear stories of people who live lives of regret. As we talk about discovering or rediscovering their talents and passions, many people tell me they kept their passions hidden, waiting for the right time. They wished they had developed their love of music, art, travel, reading, quilting, parenting…whatever. They sadly remember how happy they were doing something that activated them, but never made more time for it. And now, they feel they have missed out.

My eldest daughter gets married this week. I have written several times in this blog about this because you always write about what you feel, and seeing your first child get married is an amazingly emotional event. But more important is the realization of how quickly time goes by. I have spent time this week looking at the pictures of her life – as she moved through each stage. And I remember thinking many times in her life that this moment will not return – I have to be here, right now, to be part of it. Don’t wait. Don’t miss it.

And though these childhood moments have passed, I remember being part of them. I’m glad I made time for them. Even when work and a divorce took me away, I remember changing things to be there, to be present, and to be part of her life. And as I walk her down the aisle, I will remember all of these times. I will look back loving each moment of being her father, and will have no regrets.

So start now with the important things in your life. Don’t wait. What are the things you must do – to stay healthy, stay connected, live better, live more authentically, say what you feel, love what you do…. What are the things you must stop doing – eating the wrong foods, drinking too much, smoking, not exercising, working too much, fighting with others… How will you take ownership and invent your best life?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Identify one thing you love to do, and do it today.
  • Identify one person who needs to hear from you, and call, text, e-mail, write or visit today.
  • Say something loving and supporting to a child, spouse, sibling or friend today.
  • Identify one bad or unhealthy habit you have and end it today.
  • Identify a good new habit and start it today.
  • Identify one thing you will do to help the planet (stop using bottled water, drive less, recycle everything you can recycle, don’t litter, walk more, etc.) today.
  • Identify a need your community has and volunteer for it today.
  • Surprise someone with a compliment, smile or hug today.
  • Create your life’s bucket list of things to do and places to see, today.
  • Identify one thing that will bring your family closer, and do it today.
  • Identify one thing you will do to get better and become more valuable in your job, and do it today.
  • Identify one thing you will do to stay in better control of your finances, and do it today.
  • Identify one thing you will do to become more connected to your spirituality and beliefs, and do it today.
  • Identify one thing that you have always wanted to do, and find out about it, or do it, today.

Your life is as you make it. Your choices and actions determine its level of success, energy, passion and happiness. When you take ownership, not only do you improve your life, but you also inspire others to do the same. When you take ownership, you will look back, proud of your choices, and have no regrets.

There always seems to be a logical reason to put off what you need to do – not enough money, time, resources, energy, support, or something. Yet time goes by, day after day; you don’t get this time back. And soon large blocks of time have passed without making important changes, or living your passions and dreams. Know what makes you happy, healthy and wise – and do more of it. If it is important enough to do, then it is important enough to do today. Don’t wait.

Jay Forte is a motivational speaker and performance consultant. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to work strong and live stronger. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resources, Stand Out and Get Hired, and The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual. He has just completed his new book, The End of Average; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit and Transform Your World; chapter downloads will soon be available on his website. More information at www.LiveFiredUp.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jay Forte on May 15th, 2010 in Career, Diet and Fitness, Family, Finances, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

10 apr

Who Are You, Really?

JayForteI was watching an episode of CSI: Las Vegas and was suddenly struck by the theme song “Who Are You” by the band The Who. I don’t watch much TV but I can always find time for a new or rerun episode of this show. But until this moment, I have never been very attentive to the theme song. It got me thinking…

Who are you? Not your name or whose husband, wife, father, mother, son or daughter you are. Not your employee role, what town, state or country you live in, or what ethnic group you are from. I am looking for something deeper – more about what makes you really you.

Much of my work involves helping people rediscover their passion for work and life, and this starts with really knowing ourselves – who we are. To do this requires becoming proficient at listening to and watching ourselves – to notice how we feel, think, react and respond. This is the best mechanism to know ourselves.

We are each a unique bundle of DNA – manifested by our talents, passions, strengths, personalities and even communication styles; no two of us on the planet share the exact combination of attributes. This uniqueness is both our gift and our work. It is our gift because it allows us to invent a life that is just right for us. Our greatest happiness and impact happen when we play to what we have been given. To do this, we first must know ourselves.

And that brings us to our work. It would have been easier to have received an owner’s manual on the first day we arrived on the planet; a manual that listed our particular attributes – the things that make us unique. But the divine inspiration for us is smarter than that.

To access these gifts (because I guess nothing great is free) we have do our own work; no one can do this work for us. We learn about the gifts we received – the unique talents, strengths and passions that came bundled in our DNA – gradually over life. We have a lifetime to be introduced to our specific attributes. This allows us to learn and invent. The more we learn about what we are great at, what we love to do and what makes us feel successful, the more we invent the next things in our life. Learn and invent. This is part of the plan to help us define and own our lives.

Life becomes more authentic, more customized and happier the more we know who we are –what gifts we were given, how to use them and how to make make our greatest impact.

So to get good at listening, watching and connecting to yourself (knowing yourself), say each of the following then list five ways you notice it happening in you:

  1. I am good at (and list 5 things that come to you naturally).
  2. I am happiest when I am doing (list 5 things).
  3. I wish time would never end when I am doing (list 5 things).
  4. I am most proud of myself when I (list 5 things).
  5. My greatest impact is when I (list 5 things).

You can list more or less than 5; the goal is to get you to notice yourself because the best access to your specific gifts – those gifts that allow you to live the best life for you – is through self-awareness. And for more impact, look at yourself in the mirror as you do this.

So, you received amazing gifts – your talents, passions, strengths and personality. Most people become acquainted with only a small portion of all they received. They miss out on what makes them unique and great. They don’t know who they are. What a waste for them and for the world. Because when you play to your talents, strengths and passions, not only are you more authentic and happier, you also bring your best to the world. And we all know the world could use more of our best.

Commit the time to know yourself. Then build the best, most extraordinary and meaningful life based on the true you. This is your life; own it. And start by knowing who you really are.

Jay Forte is a motivational speaker and performance consultant. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resources, Stand Out and Get Hired, and The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual. He has just completed his new book, The End of Average; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit and Transform Your World; chapter downloads will soon be available on his website. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to live fired up! More information at www.LiveFiredUp.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jay Forte on April 10th, 2010 in Career, Family, General, Global/Social Change, New Directions, Personal Stories, Spirituality, Teens | 3 comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

03 apr

The Gift of Choice

JayForteI believe the greatest gift we are given is the ability to invent our lives. We are given very specific qualities – evidenced by our DNA and hardwiring – that show up as our talents, strengths and passions. No two of us are exactly alike. We then must spend time to discover our qualities and determine how to use them to invent our best life.

I frequently say in both my writing and keynotes, “life is not a dress rehearsal; we have one shot at inventing and living the most extraordinary life possible.” And as I have been known to say to my kids, “If you are not living the best, most exceptional and greatest life for you – designed by you, and one that plays to your talents and passions – then you are squandering away the greatest gift you will ever receive.” Life – great. The ability to invent your life and make choices – priceless.

But making choices and decisions about life are not easy. It would be great, if when we were born, we received an owner’s manual that identified our talents, strengths and passions, and then provided instructions how to use them to live happy and successful (our definition of successful) lives. The manual doesn’t show up at birth; rather, we create it as we live.

Over time we are introduced to our unique selves through introspection and by connecting with others. We become aware of what makes us feel capable, happy, competent and successful. We learn about the areas that appeal to us, and those that do not add any value. The astute student of life makes great notes to be able to direct his life based on his ability to discover, understand and use his personal gifts. Some learn this more quickly than others.

Back as early as 350 BC, Plato offered wisdom in the phrase, “know yourself.” Most people consider this old thinking from older people, and discount its value. This phrase, however, is truly the key to a great life. It reminds us that our DNA – our hardwiring – is exclusive to each of us. The best way to live the most extraordinary life (and that also means work in a job that plays to your abilities) is to learn about the unique and distinct you. No one else can do this work for you; you have the greatest ability to understanding how you think, what you feel and what would make life great for you. You own this life. Its successes and failures. After all, it is based on the quality of the choices and decisions you make.

I see many people living other’s lives. Strong parents/families, years of traditions, personal biases and social stereotypes influence many of our decisions. We live according to what others say; we become who they say we should be. We miss or reject the opportunity to develop and invent our true lives. We let others make choices for us.

Knowing my personality, interests, values and passions, arms me with valuable and meaningful information to help me make good decisions for me. It allows me to assess my world, to find the work and life situations that need what I am good at, those that activate my passions and help me feel successful. It allows me to challenge others’ requirements about how I live my life. It allows me the ability to see that the best choices (for me) are my choices. I create the quality of my life. I choose how I respond.

Each day you have to get up and get on with life. Wouldn’t it be great if every day were a thrill? Wouldn’t it be great to choose what work you do, where you live, how you live and who you love? Instead, many are forced into required responses that do not allow for their unique and divinely-inspired gifts to be realized. We all lose in this.

To help you own and defend your choices, and invent your best life, try the following:

List what you are good at.

List what you love doing.

Be sure you know your world.

Then, identify the places in your world that allow you to use what you are good at and love to do. It may be in where you live, how you live and what you do for work. It may be in whom you connect with, whom you marry and what change you look to effect. It may be what message you communicate, what wisdom you have and how you can influence even just one life.

This approach helps you develop the best information for you; to help you find your place in your world. For example, if Emeril Lagasse were a busdriver, we would never know how exceptional he is as a chef. If Sandra Bullock were an operations manager, we would never know how exceptional she is as an actress. If you were a ______________(because others said you had to be, do, act or marry) we would never know _______________ about you. And what a waste – for you and for us.

I believe we direct and invent our world – it is not pre-defined. It is invented by those of us who inhabit it at this moment. We direct our history. Imagine the potential if each of us accessed our talents and passions and brought them fully to our world. Imagine the quality of our individual lives (a world each of us could be more capable, confident, secure and happy). Imagine the impact we could make on the world (using our best attributes to advance the quality of life and the life of planet).

I am not naïve; I am hopeful. I do the work I do to change how we think about ourselves. I do my work because I learned late in my life that I trusted others more than I trusted myself. I missed many years trying to be something and someone I was not meant to be. And when I had the courage and the wisdom to step up, know myself, know my world and make changes, my world doubled in value almost overnight. I started to see where I belonged, where my life was happier, more productive and more authentic. I wasn’t kept back because my world forced me. I was kept back because I was afraid to challenge what others said. I was kept back because I didn’t know myself. And when you don’t know yourself, you don’t value your talents and passions. Without this information I didn’t realize I had choices. I let others direct me. Not any longer. I now own my life.

I am aware I don’t get the missed time back. But I am also aware life is a process; we don’t have all the answers at once. I could not be here, in this moment, had I not been through what I have been through. I wish I had used my time better but I wasn’t ready – I just didn’t know I could choose. I do wish I were smarter or more informed earlier about this. And this has brought me to my current work – to accelerate the learning process of others – to encourage a modern version of “know yourself,” know your world and find your fit. Your life – your choice.

I know how quickly life goes by. And if we could know ourselves better earlier, we may be able to live happier and with more impact – earlier. And since we don’t get this time back, even one day that is better is worth the effort.

Your greatest gift is that you are given the ability to invent your life – that you get to choose for you. Commit the time to know yourself. Know your world. Then choose the best fit for you. Don’t wait. Life is not a dress rehearsal.

Jay Forte is a motivational speaker and performance consultant. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual and the on-line resource, Stand Out and Get Hired. He is working on his new book, Work Strong, Live Stronger (Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform the World). He works to connect people to their talents and passions to live fired up! More information at www.LiveFiredUp.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jay Forte on April 3rd, 2010 in Career, Family, General, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality, Teens, Things We Love | 2 comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

28 feb

Memories at the Speed of Life

JayForteMy oldest daughter is getting married in May. The preparation has been both all consuming but well organized and really without much worry. This will be a great day. Two great families are coming to celebrate the connection of the next generation. They love our daughter; we love their son. All is good.

I know I am not the first to go through this, even in my family. But I find myself going through a new round of emotions and thoughts as I get ready to pass the baton again. Let me explain.

When the kids graduate from high school, we talk about the ceremonial “passing of the baton” – passing the reins of life over to its real owner. We say, “We have done everything we can think of to show you how big the world is and to help you know yourself well enough to know your place in the world. It is time for you to take the baton and run – to do the things you are called to do and to own every aspect of your life. We move from center stage to stage right – and you move to center stage. This is your life and we want it to be extraordinary. That is now your choice.”

They take the “baton” and first wobble. But soon they find their legs and learn to navigate their lives. Some decisions are good, some not so good. But that is what is involved in being human. We coach from the side – we realize the true owner of the life is now in charge.

But now I face the second passing of the “baton.” The last name that my daughter has carried for 23 years – our last name – will now be passed to make room for a new name. And this is right – this is the new partnership. She moves from one family to create a new one. She again is moving through life. I know that as I pass this baton – my daughter and her life – I am passing it to someone who willingly and completely accepts it. My daughter and her husband will learn to walk, run and dance together as they build their life and their memories.

I was reminded of all this as I looked at the wedding invitation. I was struck not only by the concept of having a son-in-law (who we think the world of), but that just a day or so ago – or so it seemed – this little girl was in kindergarten, in plays, riding bikes and playing with Barbie. Life is a blur as it moves in large blocks of time – pulled by kids activities, school and work. Memories at the speed of life.

I remember very specific events about each day in her life and am now flabbergasted that these events were as distant as 20 years. The bruises, cuts and scrapes; the bruised hearts and trials of dating. The sports, homework and drama of high school. The parties with cousins, families and friends. The driver’s license, new freedom and going away to college. The introduction to a serious boyfriend who is now a fiancé, and the first check needed for the reception! All of it. Memories at the speed of life.

For perspective I looked to my dad – and how he managed my movement through life and those of my five siblings. He still remembers so many of our lives’ events. He shows us pictures of when we were young – pictures we feel should be burned – but pictures that freeze in time a look, an event, an expression…a feeling. He smiles as his tired eyes look at them. They are treasures. I don’t know how often he looks at them but based on his expression, I imagine it is often. Memories at the speed of life.

Memories create the threads that are woven into the tapestries that are our lives. Some tapestries are rich, filled with colors, textures and of great size. Others are smaller and less vivid. Our choice.

Thinking about my daughter’s upcoming wedding reminds me to keep my tapestry growing, expanding and adding more color. Weave your tapestry by:

  1. Slowing life down to really notice who and what is around you; notice everything; choose to be present.
  2. Creating time each week to “memory-build;” share stories, go to places, take pictures, do the unexpected.
  3. Creating a “memory box.” Collect pictures, objects, writings, etc. and save them in the box. Once a week, have family members take out one of the objects at random and tell what they remember about it.
  4. Creating your “family thing.” Ours was we told progressive stories in the car. Each child would add to a story started by the parents, or had to provide a sound effect on cue during a story. What could be your “family thing?”

Memories at the speed of life – they fuel our emotions, they feed our souls.

My eldest daughter: a child, a teenager, an adult, and soon a wife. The time sure flew by. But I remember every stage – I have a tapestry of her life, and those of her two sisters. And when I think of this I have the same smile and tired eyes I see in my dad. I think I know what he feels. And it is a great thing.

Jay Forte is a motivational speaker and performance consultant. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual and the on-line resource, Stand Out and Get Hired. He is working on his new book, Work Strong, Live Stronger. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to live fired up! More information at www.LiveFiredUp.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jay Forte on February 28th, 2010 in Family, General, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Teens, Things We Love | 2 comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,