Archive for October, 2010

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 and

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 , , , , , ,

28 oct

What Baseball Can Teach Us About Life

MikeRobbins96With all the excitement of the playoffs and the World Series (which, thanks to the success of the San Francisco Giants, we get to experience directly here in the Bay Area), I’ve been thinking about, watching, and appreciating the great game baseball a lot these past few weeks. As someone who spent eighteen years of my life (from the age of seven until the age of twenty five) playing organized baseball and who has been a huge fan all my life, the game has taught me a great deal.

Whether you’ve played (or still play) baseball yourself, watch it as a fan, or even if you don’t particularly like it, understand it, care about it, or think it’s boring (which I know some people do), the game of baseball can teach us so many important things about life.

The fact that there are seemingly endless metaphors and universal life lessons that can be gleaned from baseball is one of the many things that make the game so interesting, exciting, and magical in my opinion.

Here are some key lessons from baseball I’ve been reminded of these past few weeks as I’ve been following the Giants with passion and enjoying the excitement of the post-season:

1) Appreciate the moment. It’s so easy in life to take things for granted, focus too much on the outcome, and worry about our own agenda or performance – all things I did for much of my own baseball career. Doing this, as we’ve all learned the hard way, causes us to miss the magic of the moment. As I’ve continued to remind the folks within the San Francisco Giants organization whom I’ve had the honor of working with as a client this year, the most important thing to do in the midst of the excitement, intensity, and pressure of competition – whether it’s in baseball or in life – is to enjoy and be grateful for the experience right now. As baseball teaches us, if we hold our breath and wait for it “all to work out,” if often doesn’t and we lose opportunity to appreciate what’s happening, while it’s happening, which is the only way we can authentically enjoy anything in life.

2) Take it one step at a time. As most baseball coaches preach to their players – “Take things one pitch at a time, one at-bat at a time, one inning at a time, and one game at a time.” While these may be some of the oldest baseball cliches in the book, they’re cliches for a reason – they’re true, and not just for baseball. The better you are at letting go of what just happened, not worrying about what’s coming up, and staying in each moment of your experience as it happens – the more likely you are to enjoy yourself and perform at your best. You never know how things are going to unfold and you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself. According to all of the “experts,” the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies were supposed to be playing in the World Series, not the Giants and the Texas Rangers.

3) Focus on what you can control. In baseball, work, and life, there are so many things we can’t control (i.e. what other people do, external factors, and ultimately the results), but we always have control over our attitude and our effort. Remembering what you can and can’t control, and putting your attention on your attitude and effort are key elements in staying focused and positive, and in reducing stress and negativity. In baseball, if you waste your time getting upset about the calls by the umpire, the play of the other guys on your team, the decisions your manager makes, the weather conditions, what the fans and media have to say, and more, you’ll make yourself crazy and render yourself ineffective in the game. The same is true in life – we spend and waste so much energy on stuff we have no control over. When we shift our focus to what we can control (our attitude and effort), we’re empowered.

4) Failure is part of the game. There is so much failure in baseball, even when you’re a really good player or team. Cody Ross, an outfielder for the Giants, won the Most Valuable Player award of the National League Championship Series against the Phillies last week. He had a great series and hit .350, which is a fantastic batting average. However, this means he got out (i.e. failed) 65% of the time. Even when you’re considered the “best,” which he was for that series, you still have to deal with a lot of failure in baseball. The two teams in the World Series this year, the Giants and the Rangers, each lost 70 and 72 games respectively during the regular season. That’s a lot of failure…and, they’re really good! This is also true in life. The question isn’t whether or not we’ll fail; it’s how we’ll deal with it when it happens that’s most important. Remembering that failure is an essential part of the game of life can help us let go of unnecessary fear, worry, and self judgment.

5) Swing hard, just in case you hit it. Our fear of failure and embarrassment often holds us back from really going for it. There were many times in my baseball career that I played tentatively, so as not to fail or lose. However, the best way to approach the game, as well as life itself, is with passion. Juan Uribe, the Giants third baseman, hit the game winning home run in Game 6 of last week’s National League Championship Series (sending the Giants to the World Series). He’s a guy who swings about as hard as anyone in baseball. Sometimes he misses and can look bad at the plate. However, when he hits it, as he did last weekend, he has the ability to drive the ball out of the ballpark and win the game in heroic fashion. Swinging hard in life, just in case we hit it, is a great way to approach many of the important things we do. Imagine what your life and career would look like it you weren’t afraid to fail or embarrass yourself?

6) Don’t be a front-runner. During the post-season, there are lots of “front-runners,” (i.e. fans, media, and others jumping on the “band wagon” when a team starts winning games and doing well). We live in a culture that loves winners and makes fun of losers. While this makes sense in baseball and sports, it can be quite damaging in business, relationships, and life. Sadly, we’re often “front-runners” with ourselves – thinking that we’re only as good as our performance or liking ourselves better based on external factors (money, accomplishments, weight, status, etc.). The most successful baseball players I’ve ever seen or known and the most fulfilled people I’ve ever been around, don’t get too caught up in their own “hype” when they’re doing well and don’t get too stuck in their own “black hole” when they’re in a slump. Keeping it real with yourself and others and not being a front-runner is critically important to creating authentic success and fulfillment in life.

7) It ain’t over ’til it’s over. As the great and somewhat quirky hall-of-fame catcher from the New York Yankees Yogi Berra famously said, “It’s ain’t over ’til it’s over.” This is, of course, true in baseball and in life. So often individuals and teams get counted out – which was true for both of the teams playing in this year’s World Series, as well as many of the individual players on both squads, especially the Giants. However, baseball is a game of many second chances and opportunities for redemption – just ask Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers. His story of recover from addiction is inspiring and a great example of perseverance. We are confronted on a daily basis in life with opportunities to give up, give in, and quit. Remembering that “it ain’t over ’til it’s over” is important for us in those low moments when we feel like throwing in the towel. Don’t give up – you never know what’s going to happen; as we’re continually reminded about through the great game of baseball and the great experience of life.

Whether you love baseball like I do, get into it from time to time (especially at this time of year), or think it’s a ridiculous and boring game – I hope you’re able to watch the World Series over this next week and not only appreciate it for the exciting sporting event that it is, but also look more deeply into the beautiful way it can teach us so much about ourselves and how to live life to its fullest.

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 –

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 Mike Robbins on October 28th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , ,

28 oct

Why Is This Happening FOR Me?

MikeRobbins96Do you ever ask yourself the question, “Why is this happening to me?” Most of us do, especially when things aren’t going the way we want them to or we’re dealing with something that’s difficult or painful.

A few years ago I was talking to my friend Brian about this and he said, “If you change the word ‘to’ to the word ‘for’ in that question, it can change your life.” When Brian said this, it really resonated with me and I never forgot it.

Instead of asking ourselves, “Why is this happening TO me?” we could instead ask, “Why is this happening FOR me?” Wow – there’s a world of difference in those two questions. The first one leads us down a path of victimhood, martyrdom, or feeling as though there’s something wrong with us. The second one takes us in a direction of deeper growth, awareness, appreciation, responsibility, and healing.

Sadly, it often seems easier and is definitely more encouraged by the world around us to choose “Door #1″ (victimhood), than it is to choose “Door #2″ (growth and responsibility).

Why is this? We live in a culture that celebrates and reinforces victimhood. And while there are clearly people in our world who are victimized by the “wrongs” of society and others (and some of us have been victimized by people and situations in our own lives personally), the majority of the time you and I act, talk, and feel like “victims,” we’re not – it’s just a habitual way of thinking and being that we’re used to.

Most of us learned how to be victims at a very young age and had (and continue to have) lots of examples around us. In fact, victimhood is something we often used as a survival technique as children and adolescents. Although it doesn’t really feel good – feeling sorry for ourselves is actually a way to distance ourselves from deep and painful emotions, like sadness, hurt, loneliness, fear, anger, and despair. Because we don’t have the emotional capacity as kids or teens to fully experience and express our emotions in a healing and liberating way, we turn to victimhood and it helps us survive.

In our lives as adults, however, playing the victim not only acts as a “smokescreen” (keeping us from taking responsibility and feeling our real emotions), it also causes a great deal of harm in relationships, at work, with our health, and much more.

Asking ourselves why something is happening “for” us instead of “to” us, doesn’t mean we have to like what’s happening, necessarily. It also isn’t about blaming ourselves for “screwing things up.” This is about consciously choosing to look for the “gold,” see the lesson, and take advantage of the situations and circumstances that show up in our lives as the opportunities for growth that they truly are.

While feeling like a victim is normal, common, and even “natural” for us as human beings, it never leads us to greater power, joy, or happiness. The more willing we are to take responsibility for what shows up in our lives and to look for what we can learn from all that we experience, the more likely we are to heal, change, and transform in the positive way that we truly want.

Here are a few things you can think about and do to let go of victimhood and expand your capacity for growth and learning:

1) Notice when and where you feel like a victim. Pick a specific area of your life, or a specific situation or relationship, where you currently feel that “it’s not fair,” or “it shouldn’t be this way,” or you find yourself asking, “why is this happening to me?” While you may have more than one area or example of this in your life right now, it works best to focus on one area at a time. Notice what you think and say about this situation – to yourself and others. Most important, tap into how you’re truly feeling about it. Remember, victimhood is always a smokescreen – keeping us away from our authentic and vulnerable feelings. When you’re able to acknowledge and ultimately experience and express how you really feel, things can start to shift.

2) Ask yourself the question, “Why is this happening FOR me?” Related to this specific situation, asking yourself this question is something that can put you in a different and healthier inquiry about what’s really going on. Again, you don’t have to like what’s happening, but you can appreciate it (which means recognize the value of it). What are you learning? What is it forcing you to deal with, let go of, heal, or confront in your life? Another good question to ask yourself along these same lines is, “What good is here that I’m currently not seeing?” The more willing you are to look deeply at and learn from this situation, and less energy you put into being at the mercy of it, the more power you’ll have in dealing with it and growing in the process.

3) Talk to others authentically. While we often “commiserate” our victimhood with other people, it’s a better idea to share how we authentically feel (in a vulnerable way) and to engage in an inquiry with people we trust about why this situation may be happening FOR us. Other people are able to see and hear things we don’t. Leaning on the people in your life, talking to them in a real way, and asking for their support and feedback can help you move through the difficulty, find the gold, and deepen your learning – especially when you’re dealing with something challenging or painful like this. The less we share our issues with others looking for them to agree with our “story of woe,” and the more we share what we’re going through with a desire for support and empowerment; the more likely we are to heal, grow, and evolve.

Letting go of victimhood is not the easiest thing for us to do – most of us have years and years of experience. However, with compassion, consciousness, and a willingness to ask ourselves why things are happening for us (and not to us), we can liberate ourselves from victimhood in a beautiful and powerful way!

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 –

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 Mike Robbins on October 28th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

17 oct

The Power of Empathy

MikeRobbins96Empathy is one of the most important aspects of creating harmonious relationships, reducing stress, and enhancing emotional awareness – yet it can be tricky at times. I consider myself to be quite empathetic, but notice that with certain people (especially those I don’t like or agree with and also with myself at times) and in particular situations, my natural ability and desire to empathize can be diminished or almost non-existent.

I also notice that when I feel empathy for others and for myself, I feel a sense of peace, connection, and perspective that I like. And, when there is an absence of empathy in a particular relationship, situation, or in how I’m relating to myself, I often experience stress, disconnection, and negativity. Can you relate?

What is Empathy?

Empathy is not sympathy. When we’re sympathetic, we often pity someone else, but maintain our distance (physically, mentally, and emotionally) from their feelings or experience. Empathy is more a sense that we can truly understand, relate to, or imagine the depth of another person’s emotional state or situation. It implies feeling with a person, rather than feeling sorry for a person. And in some cases that “person” is actually us.

Empathy is a translation of the German term Einfühlung, meaning “to feel as one with.” It implies sharing the load, or “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes,” in order to understand that person’s perspective.

What Stops Us From Empathizing?

There are a number of things that get in the way of us utilizing and experiencing the power of empathy. Three of the main ones, which are all interrelated, are as follows:

- Feeling Threatened – When we feel threatened by another person or a particular situation, it’s often hard to empathize. This makes perfect sense from a survival standpoint (i.e. if someone is trying to hurt us, we want to protect ourselves, rather than have compassion and understanding about where they’re coming from). However, we often feel “threatened” based on our own fears, projections, and past experiences – not by what is actually happening in the moment or in a particular relationship or situation. Whether the threat is “real” or “imagined,” when we feel threatened in any way, it often shuts down our ability to experience empathy.

- Being Judgmental – Judgments are a part of life, we all must make lots of judgments and decisions on a daily basis (what to wear, what to eat, where to sit, what to watch/listen to/read, what to say, and on and on). Making value judgments (the relative placement of our discernment) is essential to living a healthy life. However, being judgmental is a totally different game. When we’re judgmental, we decide that we’re “right” and someone else is “wrong.” Doing this hurts us and others, cuts us off from those around us, and doesn’t allow us to see alternative options and possibilities. We live in a culture that is obsessed with and passionate about being judgmental. And many of us, myself included, are highly trained in this destructive and damaging “art.” When we’re being judgmental about another person, group of people, or situation, we significantly diminish our capacity to be empathetic.

- Fear – The root of all this is our fear. Feeling threatened is all about fear. Being judgmental is all about fear. And, not feeling, experiencing, or expressing empathy is also all about fear. There’s nothing inherently wrong with fear, it’s a natural human emotion – which, in fact, has many positive aspects to it, if we’re willing to admit it, own it, express it, and move through it. Fear saves our lives and keeps us out of trouble all the time. However, the issue with fear is our denial of it, our secret obsession with it, and our lack of responsibility about it. We deem things, people, or situations to be “scary,” when in truth there is nothing in life that is inherently “scary.” There are lots of things, people, and situations that cause fear in us – however, we make it about “them” instead of owning that the fear comes from within us. When we allow ourselves to be motivated by fear – which often leads to us defending ourselves against “threats,” be judgmental, and more – it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to access the power of empathy.

Where in your life and relationships can you see that feeling threatened, being judgmental, and experiencing fear stop you from being empathetic? The more willing you are to look at this, acknowledge it, own it, and take responsibility for it (with compassion for yourself), the more able you’ll be to expand your capacity for empathy.

How to Become More Empathetic

There are many things we can do and practice to increase our ability to feel, experience, and express empathy for others, situations, and ourselves. Becoming more empathetic is one of the best ways we can enhance our relationships, reduce our stress level, and feel good about ourselves and our lives in an authentic way.

Here are a few things you can do and think about to become more empathetic:

1) Be Real About How You Feel – When we’re willing to get real about how we truly feel and have the courage to be vulnerable about it with ourselves and others, we can so often liberate ourselves from the negativity, projections, and judgments that mask what’s really going on. When we’re in a conflict with another person or dealing with someone or something that’s challenging for us, being able to admit, own, and express our fear, insecurity, sadness, anger, jealousy, or whatever other “negative” emotions we are experiencing, is one of the best ways for us to move past our defensiveness and authentically address the deeper issues of the situation. Doing this allows us to access empathy for ourselves, the other person or people involved, and even the circumstances of the conflict or challenge itself.

2) Imagine What It’s Like For Them – While it can sometimes be difficult for us to “understand” another person’s perspective or situation (because we may not agree with them, haven’t been through what they’ve been through, or don’t really want to see it through their eyes), being able to imagine what it must be like for them is an essential aspect of empathy. This is not about condoning inappropriate behavior or justifying other people’s actions, however I do believe deep in my heart that no one does or says things that are hurtful to us if they aren’t already feeling a real sense of pain themselves and/or haven’t been hurt in many ways in their own life. Whatever the situation is, the more willing we are to imagine what it’s like for them, the more compassion, understanding, and empathy we’ll be able to experience.

3) Forgive Yourself and Others – Forgiveness is one of the most important things we can do in life to heal ourselves, let go of negativity, and live a life of peace and fulfillment. Forgiveness has to first start with us. I believe that all judgment is self judgment. When we forgive ourselves, we create the conditions and perspective to forgive others. Forgiveness is one of the many important aspects of life that is often easier said than done. It is something we need to learn about and practice all the time. Sadly, we aren’t often taught how to forgive, encouraged to do it in genuine way, and didn’t, in most cases, grow up with very good models or examples of how to forgive. One of the best books you can read on this subject is called Forgive For Good, written by my friend and mentor Dr. Fred Luskin, one of the world’s leading experts and teachers about the power of forgiveness. This book gives you practical and tangible techniques you can use to forgive anyone and anything. The more willing we are to forgive ourselves and others (and continue to practice this in an on-going way), the more able we’ll be to empathize authentically.

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 –

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 Mike Robbins on October 17th, 2010 in General, Relationships | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , ,

14 oct

The Five Rules for a Really Great Life

JayForteYou know how some people seem to live the most extraordinary lives? They love what they do for work. They are in happy relationships. Each day is valued and treasured.

What do these people know that helps them live this way?

They know themselves – they know their talents, strengths and passions – and build their lives around these attributes. They know the Five Rules For A Really Great Life.

Before I share the Five Rules, let me tell you why these rules are so important. Life is ours to invent – it is the greatest gift we receive. We are born with a blank canvas and all the supplies to create our masterpiece. These supplies show as our hardwired gifts – our talents, strengths and passions. They are unique to each of us. They allow us to be good at some things and not others; we love some things and not others. And when we discover these attributes and build them into our lives, we create customized, high-impact, happy lives. We find our fit – we play to our greatest abilities. We are happier. We are more productive. We have greater impact.

So if we had a set of rules that would help us achieve this, we would have greater success in inventing an extraordinary life – in creating our masterpiece.

Here are my Five Rules For A Really Great Life, summarized from my new book, The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform the World:

1. Learn what you are good at and play to your strengths. What comes easily and naturally to you? What makes you feel capable and competent? What do you seem to know a lot about? What are your strengths? When someone introduces you, how do they describe you? When you know what you are good at, build your work and life around it. This builds your confidence, plays to your natural abilities and helps you move from good to great. Choose work and things in life that allow you to do your best work.

2. Discover your passions and build them into your life. What could you do all day and never get bored or tired of? When you have time, what do you choose to do? What gets you fired up!, excited and energized? Include as much of these passionate things in work and life. The more excited and enthusiastic you are, the more energy you bring to what you are doing. Studies show that those who are both good at what they do and passionate about doing it, commit the extra work and effort to move from good to great. Disciplined achievement is required to excel at things – and a deep passion for the activity increases the focus, energy and commitment to practice enough to become exceptional. As we all know, we do so much better at the things we love to do.

3. Define what makes you feel successful and use it to guide your decisions. What is your definition of success? What makes you happy? How do you trust what you feel and think instead of what others tell you? We each must learn to listen to our own internal “value voice.” A value voice is our definition of what is important and meaningful to us. Many times the people around us share their sense of what is important. But to live an exceptional and great life, we must realize that our definition of success must truly be ours – to identify the things that matter most to us. Defining happiness for yourself is one of the most difficult components of discovering and living in your greatness zone.

4. Know your world; stay current and connected to fact. What is going on in your world? Who needs or values your areas of greatness – what you do best and what you are passionate about? Where are the value areas for you? Your value in the world is in the context of the world. When you know the true you, you can find the places (in work and life) that need what you do best. You find your fit. This allows you to play to your greatness. You are most effective. You have the greatest impact. You are the happiest. Fit matters.

5. Define your greatness zone; then stand out, be authentic, and make your impact. Where is your best fit? Where is your greatness zone – that place that lets you be good at what you do, love doing it, meets your definition of success AND adds value to the world? Your greatness zone is that place where you get to be your best in your world. You play to your greatness. You are bold, authentic and confident. You choose wisely about what matters to you and you create your happiness each day. You customize your life for the things that matter to you. You own your life. You get to be you.

As I like to say, and it is my own personal belief, someone greater than you thought you should be you – so be you – and be it in a great way. Discover your Greatness Zone – then work and live in it. Life is not a dress rehearsal; we have today. Choose to make it extraordinary by playing to your greatness – by being in your Zone

And when each of us lives our greatness (that means we stop living in an average way), we bring this greatness to our world. We transform our world. And the world needs what we do best – it needs us to move from average to great. It needs us to invent it each day with our very best. This is how our world develops; this is how we help it develop.

So, you are a life inventor, and everything you need to have an extraordinary life you already have. It is up to you to learn about yourself – to discover your talents, passions and strengths – then build your life around them. This allows you to be authentic and align yourself to your core. This allows you to access your greatness. Life is so much better in the Zone…

Jay Forte is a business and motivational speaker, life and workplace coach. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resource, Stand Out and Get Hired. His new book, The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform the World was released this week. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to live fired up! More information at and

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 14th, 2010 in Career, Family, General, New Directions, Relationships, Spirituality, Things We Love | 1 comment

05 oct

Coming Out of Survival: Love Is


Coming Out of Survival


“Love Is”

Love is sweet. Love is the sweetness.

Love is kind.

Love is the innocence in you.

Love is the form, the formless, the seen and the unseen.

Love is the concrete, yet the abstract.

Love is the journey, the pathway, the destination.

Love is the beginning with no end.

Love is the opening, the softness, Love is the widening.

Love is acceptance. Love is allowing.

Love is something you and I become, not find.

Love is the answer, the only answer; therefore, the cure.

Love is the charge, Love is the fuel.

Love is the medicine given to a sick child.

Love is forgiveness; first, forgiveness of you, then forgiveness of me.

Love has no agenda, no conditions, no strings attached other than to Love itself.

Love is you. Love is me. Love is he as well as she.

Love is the “yes,” also the “no,” the “not now,” as well as the “wait.”

Love is even the “I don’t know.”

Love is the tests but disguised as Love.

Love is the tiny miracle you and I call coincidence.

Love is the friend, yet also Love is the foe.

Love is the beauty.

Love is the smile, even when buried under a frown.

Love is the stillness.

Love is the insight, the inspiration.

Love is the possibility, the totality of possibilities, the vast unlimited.

Love is the unknown. Love is the mystery. Love is the flow.

Love is the trust.

Love is whole, complete.

Love is the music. Love is the dance. Love is the rythum.

Love is the absence of fear, and the courage to act even in the face of fear.

Love is the flavor, Love is the taste.

Love is the one patiently waiting for you.

Love is the desire; Love is the longing, the ache.

Love is the tears. Love is the cry. Love is the calling. Love is the yearning.

Love is the field. Love is the flame. Oh yes, Love is the blazing fire.

Love is the power. Love is light.

Love is source, the source. Love is Grace.

Love is the devotion.

Love is the feeling; Yes, Love is the joy.

Love is the one, the only one.

Love is the place, the resting place. Love is home.

Love is calm. Love is peace. Love has no end.

Love is the understanding. Love understands. Love is no judgment.

Love is the heart filled with laughter.

Love is the pain felt with anguish.

Love is the pace. Love is the pulse. Love is the flow.

Love is the force. Love is the energy. Love is the spirit.

Love is the trials. Love is the challenge. Love is the obstacle.

And yes, Love is even the loss.

Love is the relief, the release. Love is the rescue, the refuge.

Love is the movement, yet the stillness.

Love is the game, the game of Life. Love is the players.

Love is the illusion.

Love is just what Love is, Everything.

Love is You.

Posted by Wani Manly on October 5th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

05 oct

OperationsRx: Are You on a Winner? Realizing Value in Teamwork and Day-to-Day Operations

MichelleKerriganGandhi once said you can measure the civilization of a people by how they treat their animals. Translated into corporate terms: you can measure the success of leaders by how they value teamwork in day-to-day operations.

Not long ago, a law firm partner who specializes in joint ventures and venture capital transactions asked me what I look for in operational success. It was an operational due diligence exercise to help investors determine “are you on a winner?”

I gave her a list of questions to consider when assessing quality, whether you’re an investor or a CEO wondering about your own operation. Here are 4 to get you started:

1. The management: are they leaders?
2. The team: are they organized and primed to execute?
3. What happens when people ask questions?
4. Is there an overall sense of unity and positive energy?

Most investors might just focus on the first question. Totally understandable. But, if you’re investing in a company with a growing or changing operation, you may want to take a closer look at the day-to-day. That’s where the magic happens. Where the vision you’re investing in comes to life, in the form of people, process, and teamwork.

It’s where ideas are given arms and legs so they can move forward. The value in any company depends on it, and so does the value of leadership. Answers to the bottom 3 questions will tell you a lot about the #1.

Whenever I’ve been given a new operation, I closely observe the day-to-day and sit side-by-side to interview members of the team. I find out what they do and how they do it, and am very curious about the why and when as well. I especially look for a sense of unity—if each person understands the importance of their role in achieving goals, and how they affect the people around them.

The team: are they organized and primed to execute?

Means: are there workflows, processes, schedules, and deadlines with assigned tasks and responsibilities? Are there to-do lists and scheduled meetings for follow up and review? Does the team have what it takes to do their job well?

To succeed, you need structure, focus and accountability to get things done. Most people yawn over these details, but without them, even the best strategies are just air. Think of any team sport without rules, goals, timing, talent and training. Total confusion and chaos on the field. Cause for concern for investors.

What happens when people ask questions?

I ask a lot of questions. You have to. You need to know if priorities and goals are communicated clearly and often, especially when they change (which happens a lot during growth and transition). You need the team to feel comfortable asking questions too. What you don’t need is frustration caused by fear and confusion—-it wastes time and money: yours.

Is there an overall sense of unity and positive energy?

This is crucial. I cannot emphasize it enough. Even if the operation is disorganized, it can be fixed. Some disagreement is expected-—it can even make a product or service better. But if there’s no sense of willingness—to cooperate, to collaborate, to win as a team—then run, don’t walk, to the next investment. Constant conflict is a deal breaker.

Value is realized in the day-to-day. Look closely, and it will inform you about quality leadership and teamwork, and warn you about hidden costs of conflict, confusion and control.

It is the revenue line—where money is made and lost—-and that’s the bottom line of business.

Copyright 2010 Michelle Kerrigan

For over 25 years, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping organizations and individuals improve performance and productivity in the day-to-day workplace. A trusted expert who uniquely combines extensive leadership and operations experience with powerful coaching and organizing techniques, Michelle helps clients develop skills and confidence critical to the bottom line. More at

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 October 5th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , ,

01 oct

Getting Your Mojo Going

As a coach, I have the privilege of working with people as they literally design their lives. It’s powerful, it’s effective and the process often follows a relatively consistent path. One of the first things we do is an energy assessment of the physical, emotional, purposeful and intellectual aspects of one’s life. A helpful way to think of this is as checking your “Mojo.” You remember what mojo is, right? Originally thought to be an African word for an amulet that conveyed special powers, we now tend to think of it as a state of charisma and energy. Mojo describes that state of being when you feel you are at your best. You know when you have it and you can just sense when someone you meet has it going on.

Here are five observations about getting your mojo going:

1. Embrace aging. The first is the simple but powerful realization that aging is not only something we must accept … but that aging is, in fact, a good thing. If you are part of today’s baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, then you are part of a national phenomenon. Boomers have never accepted the status quo; we’ve changed American culture at every step along the journey of our development. Have you noticed that we are beginning to shift from a youth-oriented society to one that appreciates the wisdom that comes with age? One of the most obvious places to see this change is in mainstream media. Take a look at how many ads have silver haired, youthful boomers. How many movies are about midlife issues? This appreciation for aging is also showing up in the workplace. Believe it or not, employers are beginning to bemoan the exodus of “mature” talent. And if media and workforce possibilities don’t convince you that aging does have a positive side, think about this; studies show that our self-reported feelings about happiness seem to peak in our 50’s … that’s right, 50’s. So appreciate that you are like a fine wine and look for ways to appreciate each birthday.

Finally, there is the wisdom factor that is far too underrated. As we age we tend to become exceedingly clear about who and how we want to show up in the world. The challenge is to translate that into your life plan.

2. Live life in stages, not ages. There is a myth that learning is for the young, that romance is for the youthful and that aging is a steady downhill trend. This view of how to live a life is simply old-school thinking. Our lives today are lived in cycles that come and go according to our interests and abilities more than being related to chronological rules. Don’t live your life chronologically; live it according to what feels like your next best step. One of my favorite clients—Mary—is 76 years old. Like many retreat participants, she was given a gift certificate to attend by her gentleman friend. He wanted her to learn better time management skills. If you met Mary, you would know that time management was not her challenge. She was still engaged in part-time work, she danced every week and had an active social life. So why did Mary come? Mary wanted to develop better communication skills so that she could effectively break it to this gentleman friend that she was also seeing someone else and therefore didn’t have as much time for him! Lesson number 2: life is now dictated by stage not age—live it abundantly!

3. Practice Resiliency. The third lesson about developing your mojo has to do with attachment. Think about the last time you felt as though you were living your best life — all pistons firing — your mojo at work. If you are like most folks, soon thereafter something changed and that whole feeling seemed to come unglued. You, like the rest of us, may suffer from a tendency to want to attach to those really good things and those really good times. If you hold on tightly enough, this will continue, right? Unfortunately, life isn’t like that. There is one constant we can depend upon — change — and not the kind of change we control. This is not the kind of change George Carlin joked about when he said, “I put a dollar in a change machine. Nothing happened!”

The third rule is to fully understand and accept that situations change; that you need to avoid becoming a fugitive from yourself and rely upon what you know are your internal constants. Anticipate that just about everything else will shift, perhaps when you least expect it.

4. Re-pot Yourself. We are more like plants than you might think. Regardless of our age, we are growing and expanding (hopefully more in the experiential and not the physical sense!). When endings turn into beginnings, it’s time to step back and re-pot. Sometimes that means taking a day to think about consciously changing how you live or where you work. Other times repotting calls for a more outrageous change — like moving to Tuscany for a year. That’s right — Tuscany. In four years, when our kids have all left home and launched their own lives , my husband and I are planning to re-pot in Tuscany. We’ll figure out how to work from there, we’ll learn the language and surround ourselves by such a new environment that we will be free to dream, change and to re-pot in ways we can’t even imagine from where we sit now. So take a few moments and ask yourself what kind of pot you’d like to move into?

5. Stick to the KISS principle (Keep it super simple). When life goals feel too challenging, it’s hard to imagine ever getting your mojo back again. Not so. Ask yourself the following questions …
- What are three things that are present when you feel at your best?
- What haven’t you acted upon that you have always wanted to do?
- What do you want people to say about you?
- What is one thing you can do to move towards feeling your best?

Now, find an accountability partner — someone who believes in you and will hold you to your commitments, and begin to make a plan.

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 Barbara Waxman on October 1st, 2010 in New Directions, Spirituality | 1 comment

01 oct

The Importance of Celebrating

MikeRobbins96How do you feel about celebrating? If you’re anything like me and most of the people I know, you probably enjoy it.

However, I notice that as much as I like to celebrate, I sometimes find it challenging as well. Here are some of the reasons that I use not to do it:

  • I don’t have the time or money to celebrate right now, there’s work that needs to get done
  • Things aren’t yet as good as they “should” be for me to stop and celebrate
  • People will think I’m weird, naive, or obnoxious if I celebrate too much
  • With so much suffering in the world and people having a tough time these days, it’s not appropriate for me to celebrate
  • I’ll celebrate, for sure, but not until everything turns out exactly as I want it to

Can you relate to any of these?

We were recently at Disneyland with our girls. We love it there! One of the many magical aspects of Disneyland is how they fully embrace the power of celebration. Every day at Disneyland feels like your birthday, favorite holiday, and New Year’s Eve – all wrapped into one. The parade down Main Street is even called “Celebrate You.”

I was really struck by this focus on celebration when we were there most recently and realized that one of the main reasons people come to Disneyland (and keep coming back, like us) is that it’s an excuse to celebrate. And while they do an amazing job at Disneyland with the rides, the characters, the shows, the fireworks, and more – the real magic behind it all is the power of celebration.

Too often in life we think we have to have a “legitimate” reason to celebrate – a birthday, winning an award, an anniversary, the completion of a project, the accomplishment of a goal, taking a vacation, or some other “special occasion.” While all of these things can be fun to celebrate, we don’t have to wait for them to happen to feel justified in our celebration.

At Disneyland they celebrate just to celebrate – on Tuesday mornings and Thursday nights, on special occasions and holidays, and on every single day throughout the year. What if we did more of this in our lives – even and especially when things get tough?

While it may seem counter-intuitive, celebrating for “no reason” and counting our blessings when things are hard can literally transform our experience of being alive.

I was in a cab in Houston a few years ago, heading back to the airport after speaking at an event for Chevron. The cab driver and I got into an interesting conversation about life, family, and the state of our culture in America. The driver told me he was from Ethiopia originally, but had been living in the United States for about twenty years.

I asked him, “What’s your take on American culture, given that you didn’t grow up here.” He paused for a long time; then asked me, “Can I be honest with you?” I said, “Of course.” He then said, “I think most people in this culture act like spoiled brats.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked, a bit surprised by his response. “Mike,” he said, “I’m from Ethiopia…every day here is a good day. I don’t understand why people just don’t walk around here with their hands in the air saying ‘THANK YOU’.”

Regardless of what’s going on in our lives right now, we have so much to celebrate and be grateful for. We don’t have to wait until we close the deal, win the game, finish the project, get to retirement, fall in love, reach out goal, or whatever else it is we feel we need to accomplish in order to celebrate.

Sometimes the best thing for us to celebrate is the mere fact that we’ve made it to this point in life, especially if things have been challenging, which for many of us they have been recently and/or at times in our lives.

Celebrating is not only an after-the-fact phenomenon; it’s a way of being and can become a way of life if we choose to live that way. Stop for a moment right now and think of all the things (big and small) that you can celebrate about your life right now. As Oprah Winfrey says, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

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 –

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 Mike Robbins on October 1st, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,