Archive for December, 2009

21 dec

Giving from the Heart

It’s holiday time and for many of us, holidays that should be filled with opportunities for true happiness—a sense of togetherness, a chance to give, and a chance to be grateful—are turned into occasions for fights, disappointments, overspending and fatigue. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Holidays don’t have to be expensive, meaningless or filled with stress. Rather, they can be occasions to connect to those you care about and to express your skills and talents.

Last year, as part of my quest for a more authentic Christmas giving experience, my loved ones and I decided to give one another only presents of time, energy or creativity. I taught Angie how to cook risotto; Dave took Don skiing for the first time; Andy did a bodywork session with Ana; Don helped Andy build a closet. It was wonderful. We each gave from our knowledge and talents, and we received skills and experiences in return. To me, it epitomized the best kind of generosity—giving of the self.

Another kind of meaningful holiday giving is making donations to charities in the name of the person you’d normally buy something for. Especially as we age, most of us have so much stuff that we’d prefer not to get more objects.

I’m not suggesting you quit doing what you enjoy about holiday gift-giving. Rather, that you consciously choose to give in a way that truly comes from your heart and notice what effect it has on you. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The only gift is a portion of thyself…The poet brings his poem; the shepherd his lamb, the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing.” Wishing you a meaningful holiday season!

About MJ Ryan

A member of Professional Thinking Partners who is recognized as a leading expert in change, M.J. Ryan specializes in coaching high performance executives, entrepreneurs, individuals, and leadership teams around the world to maximize performance and fulfillment. Her clients include Microsoft, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Hewitt Associates, and Frito Lay. Her work is based on a combination of positive psychology, strengths-based coaching, the wisdom traditions, and cutting edge brain research. Her new book, titled “AdaptAbility: How to Survive Change You Didn’t Ask For” was recently released published by Random House’s Broadway Books. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and daughter.

Posted by MJ Ryan on December 21st, 2009 in Family | No comments Read related posts in , , ,

21 dec

The Fourth Secret of Change

Let’s think about Change Demons.

People who successfully navigate change give themselves permission to be human. They feel their emotions and know how to move through them. (Companies also fit themselves under this statement.)

Getting through a tough change isn’t about “thinking” yourself through it. It isn’t about an action plan, three steps, here they are, boom. It isn’t either about being all tough and logical. What I’ve found from thousands of interviews is the opposite actually. People who get through those tough life changes are much more human than you imagine. They feel, they’re scared, they doubt, they worry, they’re angry, they’re impatient, they blame, they feel guilty, they’re ashamed. The list of typical emotions, what I call our “change demons” is a long one.

You are meant to feel your way through change initially, not think your way through change. The emotion you are most resisting right now is the emotion that is ruling your life. It’s the emotion that isn’t allowing the next thing to show up. Feeling again is the first step to getting through change. You find your power in your feelings. It’s where energy starts moving again. Energy doesn’t move in your head or thoughts. That’s where it gets stuck. People get sick from not feeling an emotion and instead burying it somewhere in their body. (Companies get sick from not addressing their employees’ emotions, too.)

Identify the feeling that is coming up. Is it self-blame? Is it fear? Is it powerlessness? What is your go-to emotion during change? Next ask yourself, what is the emotion you would do anything to avoid? That’s the one you need to address.

Whether it’s losing a job or a deal or a relationship or facing a health issue, the classic emotions of change are still the same. The way to go beyond these is to find the antidote. Take fear for example. The antidote is faith, faith in life, in yourself, in your team, in God, in things eventually turning around for you. Something needs to be bigger than your fear. Where do you really find your safety net?

Those uncomfortable emotions have always led the way. When you tune into your intuition—the tightness in your stomach over a job decision, the stress you feel, your sleepless nights—into what emotion is trying so hard to get your attention, only then do you find some peace. Your change demons are sending you a wake-up call to make some new decisions, to honor your intuition, to face the consequences, to get honest.

People aren’t changed by information. They are changed by inspiration, by having their emotions shaken and moved. Remember that. Think of artists, singers, teachers, even some of our politicians. All they do begins and ends with emotions, with getting in touch with feelings. Emotions change a business. Emotions create customers. Emotions are like fuel during change. Welcome them. They’re not to be feared. It’s a positive sign when they are getting your attention. It means there’s something for you to learn, realize, change, get honest about, make a decision about, and find a more empowering emotional response for than to find some stability in.

Still, there’s no need to welcome every emotion to the party. So when fear shows up, you can exercise some control over whether you invite its friends—blame, anger, resentment, embarrassment, and terror to the party—and then feed them and let them stay as long as they like. That ’s the part you control. Change Optimists as I like to call them feel their full range of emotions. Like they do, give yourself full permission to be human if you are serious about getting through a change now.

Companies also go through their own “change demons.” See if you can identify what emotion your company, or team is maybe stuck in. Give everyone permission to voice this, feel this and only then will you and they be able to move through to a better place.

Posted by Ariane de Bonvoisin on December 21st, 2009 in Ariane, Career, New Directions | 1 comment Read related posts in

19 dec

Work with Your Brain for Lasting Change

MJRyanIt’s that time of year again. New Year’s resolutions.

Experts tell us that fewer than 10% of us make resolutions that stick. Is it because we don’t really want to change? I don’t think so. It’s because most of us have not been taught how to change. We don’t know how to get our brains on our side. A few basics from brain science can really help.

Practice Makes Permanent
To bring new behavior into being takes work. Our brains have enormous “plasticity,” meaning they can create new cells and pathways. But our brains create strong tendencies to do the same thing over and over. Here’s why: The brain cells that fire together wire together. Meaning, they have a strong tendency to run the same program the next time. That’s why lasting change takes lots of practice. You’ve got to create a pathway to the new options. (This lasts six to nine months, say many brain scientists–so much for those seven-day wonder programs.) The process is not about getting rid of bad habits—the pathway to your current behavior is there for life, baby—but building new, more positive ones. Even stopping doing something, like procrastinating, is really about creating a good new habit, starting sooner.

The lack of brain hardwiring is also why you’ve got to put external reminders in place, at least in the beginning. Unless you have a trigger from the outside—an email reminder, a buddy–it’s very likely you’ll keep defaulting to the old behavior because it’s automatic. That’s also why it’s so important to be willing to start over no matter how often you blow it or get discouraged.

Most of us are also not concrete enough about what we want and unrealistic about what we can reasonably ask ourselves to learn. Here’s what an executive client of mine said he wanted to learn in three months: “to be more positive with my people, to be more creative and productive, to take better care of myself.” “How about create world peace while you’re at it?” I replied. “And what does “more” mean anyway? Even if it were possible to focus on all of this in that time frame, how will you know if you are more of any of these things?”

As this client demonstrated, we expect too much of ourselves and we expect to change overnight. When that doesn’t happen, we resign ourselves to staying the same, convinced that we are hopeless, weak, or unmotivated, which makes us even more stuck.

To truly change requires three things: desire, intent, and persistence. You have to identify what you desire enough to be willing to stick to it, make SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound), “leave the computer at the office and don’t look at the Blackberry after 9:00” rather than “having more balance,” and not turn goof ups into give ups.

Get the Bunny on Your Side
We have more than one brain involved in change. One is our neocortex, our “thinking brain.” That’s what we use to decide what change we want to make. But we also have an emotional brain, the amygdala, that we share with all mammals. This is the brain concerned with feelings, instincts, eating, fighting, and sexual behavior. The emotional brain isn’t very smart. Think bunny rabbit or squirrel. It understands “pleasant” or “painful,” and “safe” or “danger.” It propels us toward pleasure and away from pain. That’s why we so often “sabotage” ourselves—our emotional brain overrides what our thinking brain has decided in favor of immediate pleasure or perceived safety.

If you are serious about succeeding with your resolution, this information is crucial. You’ve got to get your emotions on your side. We create lasting change not because it makes sense to do so from the perspective of our thoughts—I should go to the gym—but by engaging our feelings—it’s going to feel fabulous to be thinner. If the change seems too scary, too hard, or no fun, your emotional brain is going to work against it. And because the bunny doesn’t have a long-term memory, you’ve got to keep the feeling reason alive every day! For instance, I helped a guy stop smoking permanently by having him put pictures of Hawaiian beaches in his office, car and house because his feeling reason to stop was to live long enough to retire to a beach in Hawaii.
Armed with these brain basics, you can create lasting change and become a greater master of your fate rather than the victim of old choices. How’s that for a Happy New Year?

—M.J. Ryan is an executive coach and the author of THIS YEAR I WILL…How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution or Make a Dream Come True. Go to her website ( for more help.

Posted by MJ Ryan on December 19th, 2009 in New Directions | No comments Read related posts in

18 dec

Growing in Wisdom and Love

If there is a through line in my life, both personally and as a writer, it is to identify and develop those qualities that help us grow individually and collectively in wisdom and love. That’s ultimately why I’m so interested in self trust. “Wisdom,” Buddhist monk Khandro Rinpoche says, “is innate in us; it is not something that can be bought, heard or received from the outside.” In other words, we must look within to find it. It can’t come from anyone but us. Without self trust, we can never become wisebecause we will continue to look outside ourselves for the answer. As for love, it is only when we are grounded in our own beingness, comfortable with who and what we are, that we can enter into a truly loving encounter with another human being. Otherwise we are using the other person to meet our needs for security or approval rather than entering fully into the soul-growing encounter that a real loving relationship promises.

These inner qualities of self awareness and self reliance are crucial to go through hard times and make it out on the other side. We learn we can survive difficult feelings—depression, sorrow, a sense of meaninglessness—and we learn what helped us make it so when hard times come again, we’re better prepared. Our feelings are no longer so threatening to us, and we are able to serve as guides and mentors to others who suffer.

Ultimately, the greatest rewards of trusting ourselves are to be found at the soul level, the place where we are called to discover and express the wholeness of who we are for the benefit of all. “A self is made, not given,” says author Barbara Myerhoff. “It is a creative and active process of attending a life that must be heard, shaped, seen, said aloud into the world, finally enacted and woven into the lives of others.” We can’t do that if we are looking outside ourselves for the answers. As that wise man, Carl Jung once said, “He who looks outside dreams. He who looks inside wakes.”

I am inviting you on a journey to look inside in a new way and awaken. Not to detail what is wrong, but to come to deeply treasure what is right. And to use what you discover to make your way more happily in life and to offer the gifts that only you can provide. For the more you trust yourselves, the more you will know just what your place in the grand design of life is and what your matchless contribution might be.

About MJ Ryan

A member of Professional Thinking Partners who is recognized as a leading expert in change, M.J. Ryan specializes in coaching high performance executives, entrepreneurs, individuals, and leadership teams around the world to maximize performance and fulfillment. Her clients include Microsoft, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Hewitt Associates, and Frito Lay. Her work is based on a combination of positive psychology, strengths-based coaching, the wisdom traditions, and cutting edge brain research. Her new book, titled “AdaptAbility: How to Survive Change You Didn’t Ask For” was recently released published by Random House’s Broadway Books. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and daughter.

Posted by MJ Ryan on December 18th, 2009 in New Directions, Relationships, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in , , , ,

17 dec

Mandela and Perspectives on Time

RobbenCellsAs many of you know who follow me on Twitter and Facebook—@clickariane and arianedebonvoisin if you would like to—I am currently in South Africa, one of my most favorite countries, writing my next book.

Today, I took the ferry to Robben Island, the maximum security prison where Nelson Mandela and many other political prisoners (including Zuma, the current President), were imprisoned. Robben Island is about 40 minutes by boat from the gorgeous city of Capetown, which is a real paradox. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world and yet a few minutes away on an island stands the former site of one of the harshest places on earth.

MandelaCellWe were taken to Mandela’s cell which is about 6 feet by 7 feet wide. He had no bed, a simple rough blanket on the floor, and a red bucket to use as a toilet. He worked eight hours a day in the harsh sun in a limestone quarry that nearly made him blind. Here is a man who slept on the floor, ate the same food every day, and was kind, graceful and patient for 27 years!

I found it nearly impossible for my tiny limited mind to comprehend those facts. My mind had an even harder time with the fact that when he was released from jail, he had already forgiven his wardens, those captors who had tortured him for close to three decades. Reconciliation started while he was still in prison. The depth of his forgiveness towards someone who took 27 years of his life away completely, is simply stunning. It made me really face a few things. Who are the people I still need to forgive? Do I really have a good reason not to have forgiven them yet? Please ask yourself that. If Mandela can be in jail for 27 years and come out not holding a grudge and with a heart full of love and compassion, we all can as well.

And secondly, why is it that I am so impatient, as if time is running out? Am I having trouble adjusting to getting old, or somehow haven’t I done things fast enough? My visit today put a good perspective on what it means to have a bad day, week, month or even year. Mandela had 27 years of bad days. We need to enjoy every moment we have. We are free. We need to look at our “little me” problems and maybe think bigger.

Not once did he ever think he would be free, let alone vote, let alone be president of the country, win the nobel peace prize, and so on.

Here’s a question for all of us: What is it that we’ve decided will and can never happen? Let’s invest it just a tiny shred of possibility. Really we have no idea what’s around the corner.

And never ever underestimate the power of the human spirit. I truly have no words to describe what I saw and felt today. So forgive me.

I’ve added two photos to my blog this time. In the long shot, the window to the far right is Mandela’s cell. Plus, I’ve included a photo of the inside of his cell.

Posted by Ariane de Bonvoisin on December 17th, 2009 in Ariane, Personal Stories | 3 comments Read related posts in

15 dec

Breakup Tips to Help You Move Forward with Your Life

Going through a breakup is, unfortunately, something that a majority of people will experience within their lifetime. Whether it’s the breakup of a marriage or the breakup of a long-term relationship, losing the person you love – your best friend – can feel like the end of the world.

In some people, that feeling of loss can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. We all know that it takes time to repair a broken heart, and I believe that it’s what you do in that time that will cause you to come out of this ordeal a bitter person or a better person. Here are some exercises that you can work through in order to emerge from your breakup a happier, healthier you!

1) Throw yourself a pity party. Get some ice cream and eat your heart out, then get sentimental and cry your eyes out. It’s actually good for you. A recent study published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, shows that after crying, your breathing and heart rate slow, which puts you into a relaxed state. So let it all out! It’ll help.

2) Erase. Don’t chase. Delete your ex’s number from your phone, text messages, emails, IM-buddy list, Facebook and any other social networking sites. The less contact you have with your ex, the less anxiety you’ll feel and the sooner you’ll heal. (If you have children, you obviously can’t lose your ex’s number or email, however, you can remove him from your social networking sites).

3) Rally the troops. Give friends and family the green light to visit you at home, or accept their invites to go out. And while you’re with them – talk to them. A recent study by the University of Michigan shows that social interaction can help curb depression.

4) Join an online support network. If you feel as if your friends and family have grown weary of lending a supportive shoulder, sign up for a support site like the one at where you can share your story with other men and women who are experiencing the same pain or have overcome it. Giving and receiving advice can push open the doors to healing.

5) Don’t self-destruct. Reconstruct:

-Work extra hours at your job to get that promotion you’ve always wanted
-If you are not happy in your current job, update your resume and apply for a new job
-Go back to school
-Volunteer and do something that you’re passionate about
-Indulge in a hobby

6) Beat depression with a notebook. Use a guided journal like The Breakup Workbook, or simply grab a notebook and start with a pro/con list and go from there. A journal can show you where you’ve been and can be the place where you draw up the plan that gets you where you want to go.

7) Stick to a routine. Emotional upset can seriously mess with your daily routine. Set your alarm and wake up at the same time every day. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. No skipping meals! Put aside time to pamper yourself. Go to bed by a specific time. The more structure you have in your life, the easier it will be to stay healthy and positive.

8) Ask for help. If you’re having difficulty accepting the breakup, or you feel that depression is taking over your life, seek a therapist. If your insurance plan doesn’t cover it and money is tight, check online or call your local hospital for a list of free mental health services or support groups. Some therapists have a sliding scale. And if none of that works, you can always call a toll-free hotline from the comfort of your own home.

MJ Acharya is a freelance copywriter living in Boston, MA. She is the founder of Her common sense breakup advice has been featured online at,, in print published by The Oakland Press, Hour Detroit Magazine, Strut Magazine, Sassy and on television shows, such as, Canada AM. To contact her, please visit

Posted by M J Acharya on December 15th, 2009 in Family, Relationships | No comments

15 dec

Twittering Your Way to a Job

There’s no doubt Twitter is the hottest social media tool right now. But for those of you that are job searching, how do you use it to find a job?

First, you need to understand what Twitter is: a microblog. Rather than long blog posts, you share your updates, wisdom and info in 140 characters or less. Sort of like Facebook updates on steroids.

Then you need to learn how to use Twitter. I like CNET’s newbie guide and a few others I recommended in my post when I debuted my own Twitter account.

Finally, you need to know that you can use Twitter online, but there are also a ton of other tools developed to make “tweeting” easier. Here’s a good list of options.

Now that you’re ready to use Twitter , here’s how to use it best for your job search:

1) Use a tool like TweetDeck to search terms on Twitter. You can use “hashtags” like #job or search for terms. A search of “sales jobs” brought up dozens of jobs. the best part? People connect immediately on Twitter so you get a direct response instead of your resume going into a black hole computer system.

2) Find companies that are Twittering and learn more about them. Hundreds of companies are Twittering and following them will help you better learn about jobs and company strategy. Mashable posted a great list of the top 40 brands that are on Twitter and Sodexo has a Twitter account specifically for careers.

3) Learn from career experts on Twitter. I tweet @DailyCareerTips and @susandstrayer. Follow me! Allison Doyle has also compiled a great list of career experts on Twitter that you should follow.

4) Treat your job search contacts on Twitter like you would in email or in person. Be professional,

5) If you’re job searching, make your posts appropriate too. You can share personal information, but tell me about a movie you’re going to see not how sick you are or that you’re too fat for bathing suit season. It goes without saying that you don’t want to use profanity or trash companies or people. Don’t tweet that you just interviewed with company A and they suck.

6) Look for twitterers like Twithire that actually post jobs live on Twitter. Since it’s a tech tool, jobs may be tech heavy, but be patient. You’ll be surprised at what you find.

7) See what other experts say about finding jobs on Twitter. Heather Huhman has a good post with some additional ideas.

Career Coach and HR Consultant


Posted by Susan Strayer on December 15th, 2009 in Career | No comments

15 dec

The One Minute Meditation

LauraFenamoreThis is such a special time of year for so many people. There is a fine line between feeling the joy of the season and feeling stressed out. I want to offer a simple practice to counteract the stressful part of the hustle and bustle of this season of light.

Introducing the 1-minute meditation.

I want to introduce you all to daily meditation for you to be with you and only you.

(If your mind says, I do not want to meditate, do it anyway, and start with one small step, a OnePinky step).

Start with a 1-minute meditation and work your way up to 2 minutes and 3 minutes and on and on.

I suggest you make your first month 1-minute everyday and if you can get through 30 days for a minute, then move on to 2 minutes a day. One year from now you will be up to 12 minutes of meditating a day.

Think of it this way, 12 minutes a day or no minutes a day? I say 12 is better than none and why not start small and let consistency rule? It’s a great way to start a new habit.

Here is how to begin. You will need a timer, something on the quieter side—if possible—that you can hear like a watch timer. Now create a place of solitude. Go to any quiet place. It can be a closet or a bathroom, it does not need to fancy, just quiet and still. Sit down. Place your legs in a relaxed fixed position. Close your eyes.

Now allow your mind to settle into your breathing. Breathe in, Breathe out. Just observe your thoughts and pay attention to your breathing. Always come back to your breath.

When the timer sounds off, stop. This is only meant to be a 1-minute mediation until you are ready to increase the time. The practice is to stay with your agreed-upon time even if you want to go longer. Start this practice with just 1 minute. If you want to do it longer—just in the first month—you may do it several times a day and just stay with 1 minute until it feels supereasy to access at any time. I suspect that you will begin to feel comfortable being in this peaceful state for 1 minute, anytime anywhere.

After the first 30 days, you will notice a positive inner shift and more inner lightness. Let us know how you do. We want to hear from you!

Below are some affirmations to go along with your new 1-minute meditation practice. Have fun with it all.
Life is meant to be fun!

  • A smiling face and joyful loving words are the best presents I can share with the world today.
  • Loving myself gives me the energy to work through any problem more quickly. My life is a labor of love and when I forget that I can reach out to someone who loves me and ask them to remind me.
  • Today and every day I can dance with joy for all I have been blessed with.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. —Dalai Lama

Laura Fenamore, CEO
Leading women to a new conversation about weight release and loving their bodies, for good. Sign up for our free report at

Posted by Laura Fenamore on December 15th, 2009 in Health, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in ,

15 dec

Lessons Learned from the Recession: Getting Better, Getting Stronger

JayForteToday’s tough economic times have forced us to look with greater attention at what we do, the decisions we make, and how we use our resources. Surviving the recession is not just about cutting back – it is about changing how we think about every aspect of our lives to redefine what is truly meaningful, valuable and important.

Everything changes. Life has no guarantees – we get what we get. But we have the capacity to handle what comes our way – including dealing with change. The real issue isn’t the change itself – it is how we use, respond and even welcome change. To be successful in a changing world we must relearn much of what we took for granted; we must become better at inventing, responding, communicating, sharing and staying focused on what is important. There are many lessons learned from this recession – and when learned, we get better and stronger.

In a period of great downs it is easy to focus on the things we are missing, doing without, and are upset about. Or, we can realize that from every tough time, opportunities are generated. It takes a lot of effort to stay optimistic but that is the key to getting better and getting stronger; we must refocus our attitude to hunt for and find the good in every situation instead of fixating on what is lacking or changed.

Committed to remain positive in tough times, I started a list of things that are actually better as we all have dealt with a tough economy, lost jobs and limited cash. And as I started my list, I noticed that with a change of mindset, there was no shortage of great things – even better things – than I had initially thought.

So, I share my list of how life is better in spite of our recession. And if you have found that some things have improved because we had to look deeper into ourselves and become more creative, more connected and more determined, please share them. I’ll keep the list going and hope that others see how to hunt for the good instead of the bad.

As Henry Ford said, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” It really is all about attitude. So if you think life is miserable. It will be. If you think there are reasons to celebrate you’ll find them. I vote for celebrating.

My List – Getting Better, Getting Stronger

• We realize we can’t spend what we don’t have; credit and credit cards are not the same as cash.

• We now spend more time at home, we eat as a family, we are learning to spend time again with each other and talk to each other more.

• Dinner out is now more a treat than a routine.

• Dessert out is as much fun and more affordable than dinner out.

• We do more family events using what we have; we look at photos, remember events and reconnect to our kids, parents, cousins and grandparents, and what to what they remember, share and think.

• Track shoes and a two-mile jog around the neighborhood burns as many calories as a tread mill, stair climber or elliptical stepper at a gym.

• We use our now more limited weekly food money on real food and have eliminated many of the snacks that are not good for us; we are starting to eat healthier.

• We reconnected to our neighbors and learned to share our extra when they did not have enough; we are building our social networks face-to-face.

• We hang up our clothes instead of leaving them on the floor or on the chair; we do less laundry, and we make things last.

• We watch the movies, wear the clothes and play the games we forgot we had; we treasure what we have.

• We waste less food, create less garbage and leave less of a footprint on the planet; we are more aware that supplies of things are limited – and once gone, they may be gone for good.

• We are less fixated on whether we have the newest, shiniest, best or most expensive, in favor having the right things that keep people healthy and safe.

• We drive our cars less, consume less gas and learn about the great things in our neighborhood; in the process we make our cars last a little longer.

• We slow down on the road knowing that it conserves fuel and offers a view of some great things we generally didn’t notice in our rush to get places.

• We spend more time with each other; we rekindle friendships that evaporated when life became too busy to stay in touch.

• We recycle more, go to garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores. Bohemian and trendy salvage styles are making a comeback.

• We buy local produce that saves on fuel and gives us healthier things to eat.

• We have learned to extend any meal by adding cans of things we had in the pantry; we invent new family recipes; we use what we have.

• We borrow books and movies from the library instead of buying new ones.

• We spend more time with crayons, glue, paper and a box to make great things and have a great time.

• We are beginning to realize that a gift is truly based on the thought instead of the cash value – and that a flower picked or a handmade card delivered at the right moment creates the right memory.

• We learn how to talk to each other again.

• We get by without 700 cable channels of chatter and stuff.

• We now turn lights off when we are not in a room, reduce the amount of heat or air conditioning and are still fine.

• We live by the rule that for every bag that comes into the house, two must go – one to trash/recycle, one to the needy.

• We buy day-old, discount and reduced-cost foods that help us save money and improve our creativity in the kitchen.

• We now treat things with more respect – a person, book, toy, car or other important thing.

• We take a bike to work. We get our workout, get to work and leave less of a impact on the planet.

• We rent out or share an extra room with someone who can’t afford their house.

• We give all of the clothes that don’t fit or we can’t use to organizations that ensure it gets distributed to those who use them.

• We use coupons and look for the best deals before we buy; we understand what we buy instead of thinking that we’ll throw it out and get another one.

• An afternoon out is now a walk around the neighborhood, time at a park or appreciating nature, architecture, a view or the weather; there doesn’t have to be a purchase to make the afternoon valuable.

Remember how we all came together to deal with the horror of 9/11? We united, became closer and more committed to helping each other out. A tough economy is another wake up call – to remind us of how we must respect each other, our planet and our resources. Societies are built on their unity. When things are tough, it is important to work together to solve, to respond and to help out. How has the recession helped you redefine what and who is important?

Jay Forte is a motivational speaker and performance consultant. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition and Stand Out and Get Hired. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to work strong and live stronger. More information at

Posted by Jay Forte on December 15th, 2009 in Diet and Fitness, Family, Finances, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , ,

15 dec

Our Insatiable Desire for Fame

mike_robbinsI’ve been fascinated by the recent sensationalized stories in the media about “Balloon Boy,” the White House party crashers, and the various alleged mistresses of Tiger Woods coming out to tell their tales. While it’s easy to get caught up in the drama of these stories, to blame the insatiable appetite of the twenty-four-hour news cycle, or to judge the particular people involved, the deeper issue is that some people seem willing to do just about anything to get their fifteen minutes of fame – even if it involves selling out on themselves and those close to them or causing pain, fear, or public humiliation for them or others. What is this really all about?

While most of us assume we wouldn’t go to the same lengths these people did in order to get attention and not all of us have a secret fantasy to be the star of our own reality TV show, there does seem to be a collective belief in our culture that becoming famous and well-known is an important goal and a key element to being successful and fulfilled in life. No matter how many big examples we’ve seen over the years to the contrary, many of us still get caught up in the elusive and ego-driven chase of fame. And, even though some of us have no specific desire to be “famous,” most of us think that if we had that — more money, greater influence, better body, perfect relationship, enhance ability, more exposure, etc. — then we’d be happy or feel like we’d made it.

When I look at this issue for myself, I notice that the driving force behind my own desire for “fame” — or any of the other external achievements I erroneously think will make me feel accomplished or successful — is a fear that who I am and what I’m doing isn’t quite good enough. When we tell the truth to ourselves, most of us have some version of this fear and a deep-seeded belief that we’re fundamentally flawed. This isn’t something we usually bring up at cocktail parties or even admit to the people close to us (or to ourselves). However, when we’re really honest about it, our own feelings of inadequacy are what drive a lot of our behaviors, particularly the most debilitating, inauthentic, and destructive ones.

What if, instead of standing back in self-righteous judgment, we used these recent examples — and the many that will inevitably follow — of fame chasing in the media to give us an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, get in touch with what truly matters to us, and practice being more of our authentic selves in life – instead of chasing attention or acknowledgment. Standing in judgment of other people — those in the media or those in our lives — while easy to do and encouraged by our culture, doesn’t really serve us or give us any real value. Relating to people, situations, and circumstances as reflections of our personal and collective consciousness and choosing to learn from them, gives us the opportunity to change and grow all the time.

Here are three things we can practice, based on the wonderful examples of these recent media stories:

1) Tell the truth about your own secret desire and motivation for fame and attention – Most of us have some secret (or not so secret) desire to be “famous” or at least to get more attention than we’re currently getting. We may want to be on TV, to get more recognition at work, to have more friends on Facebook, or something else that we think will make us feel more “important.” And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with us wanting to be acknowledged in some public way, the issue for most of us has to do with our motivation (it will make me happy or make me feel like I’m “somebody”) and what we may be willing to do in order to gain this attention (sell out on ourselves or those around us, be selfish and hurtful to others, or even lie, cheat, and steal). However this shows up in your life, the more willing you are to admit it and own it, the less negative impact it will have on you and those around you. As Sigmund Freud said, “We’re only as sick as our secrets.”

2) Focus on what you really want – Underneath our desire for fame and attention are usually some deeper and more meaningful desires. Maybe we want to make a difference for other people in a profound way, we want to experience a deep sense of appreciation, or we want to be bold and really step out in life. We often allow our egos to hijack our pure desires and turn them into superficial fantasies and erroneous notions. However, when we take a closer look at what we really want and what’s beneath our chase for “fame,” we can uncover what we really want and in most cases realize that these desires have nothing to do with gaining the attention of others. This can be incredibly liberating, empowering, and exciting.

3) Have compassion for yourself and others – As you notice yourself and others getting caught up in the insatiable desire for more attention or for fame itself, see if you can have a deep sense of compassion. It doesn’t mean any of us are “bad” for having these thoughts, feelings, or desires. Given the nature of today’s media culture and our own feelings of inadequacy, it makes perfect sense that we have some version of this obsession. However, when these things show up within us or around us, having compassion will allow us to more deeply understand ourselves and others, and give us the opportunity to be more authentic. When we go beneath our superficial desire for attention, it can allow us focus on what we’re really after – which is usually a sense of real appreciation for ourselves, others, and life and for what truly matters.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info –

Posted by Mike Robbins on December 15th, 2009 in General, Relationships, Spirituality, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , , ,