Posts tagged with ‘life choices’

28 oct

Get Ready to Pass the Baton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29 aug

Have the Time of Your Life

JayForteI have great respect and affection for older people. Maybe I have an old spirit or just really admire the strength to survive on the planet for many years, but I find older people remarkable.

I was particularly fond of all four of my grandparents. And unlike so many of my friends, I had a great opportunity to spend a large part of my life with these amazing people. Their life lessons showed their generosity, limitless love and energy, and at the same time their criticalness and worry. After all, they were human too. But most of what I remember is their love of every day – that wherever you were, you were to be there, in that moment, and appreciating what was around you.

I was reminded of all this as we sat at lunch this week with friends of my in-laws. Both in this couple are older, nearly eighty, and one is significantly ill with scleroderma. But neither condition stops them from being fully present in their lives.

At lunch they shared stories of their recent road trip that took them over four thousand miles to see family, be part of a wedding, visit old friends, and spend time with their kids. Originally, they planned to make this a bus trip but opted instead to drive. Armed with a GPS and a preferred card at Choice Hotels, they spent nearly four weeks meandering through the lives and homes of their friends and family. With the health condition they had to take it slow and rely on the help of people at the hotels and on their families. Everyone stepped up. As they both said, “It was a trip of a lifetime.”

What impressed me most, besides the excitement still in the voices as they shared story after story about the trip, was their courage – the courage to go on this trip – the courage to get up and actively live each day. They appreciate life, its plusses and minuses as part of the way life is. They choose to live as much of life as they can. None of the significant challenges they bear showed up in their stories. No complaints; nothing owed to them. They wanted an amazing trip – they did it, they loved it and they will remember it forever. They had the time of their lives.

My first thought in all this was to applaud them for the courage to go for what they dreamed of. But it made me think – isn’t that really something we all should feel? Why is it we feel that life is any less sacred, important or valued when we are young than when we become old? Why is life any less spectacular when we are well than when we are sick?

We never know the amount of time we are given. That should remind us that life is truly a gift and that it is to be celebrated, applauded and fully lived each day. In the utterly spectacular book, Kitchen Table Wisdom, author Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen shares a powerful line said by a patient who was challenged with a terminal illness, “When you are walking on thin ice, you might as well dance.” Isn’t this really the way we all should live? Since we never know what is coming next, shouldn’t we spend more time dancing?

As with many older people, their lives, attitudes and stories share the wisdom that everyday is more valued, more spectacular and more extraordinary because you get to have it. And why not take a road trip to share your life with those who matter most to you? As much as the road trip was a trip of a lifetime for our friends, it was also the visit of a lifetime for the people they saw. Funny how that works. When we are busy having the time of our lives, we are also helping to create the time of someone else’s life.

It seems that the smartest people on the planet are those who are in touch with their humanity and mortality. They don’t waste time on things that don’t matter. Dave Ramsey says it best, “[So many people] spend money they don’t have to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.” Wise people choose life events over life things. Maybe this is the wisdom in age that I so appreciate. Maybe this is the lesson for all who are younger. Don’t wait. Live the life you love. Make good choices. Have the time of your life.

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

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Posted by Jay Forte on August 29th, 2010 in Career, Family, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

17 aug

Chart Your Own Course

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To help you customize your road, answer the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

31 jul

You Get To Be You. How Great Is That?

JayForte“You can be anybody you want to be,

You can love whomever you will

You can travel any country where your heart leads

And know I will love you still

You can live by yourself, you can gather friends around,

You can choose one special one

And the only measure of your words and your deeds

Will be the love you leave behind when you’re done.”

The chorus from “Everything Possible” by Fred Small

You can be anybody you want to be. This is not meant to be cliché or without the realism that life is difficult. But know that our greatest value in life is living authentically, connecting to others and bringing our personal best to the world. In other words, being who you really are – in the way you want to be. Life is about choices. Life is about inventing. So what do you want your life to be?

Studies continue to support that those who have gone from rags to (material) riches, or those who work constantly to achieve material possessions instead of life meaning, friendships and personal connections, are less content, satisfied and fulfilled in life. Stuff doesn’t make life. People make life. Events and connections make life. And the best way to be part of all this is to be fully present, authentic and living the life that you invent and choose.

Like most people, I spent much of my life living the way others thought was right for me. Not until I realized that the loudest voice I needed to listen to was my own. I had to develop the confidence and courage to understand and articulate who I was, what I wanted in life and what I was good at. And when I did, I started to make better decisions about me – for me.

It is up to me to determine who I am, who I love, how I want to live, what work I do, and where life should take me. Sure, input about life from others is important. But it is more important to use their input as a way to better understand your choices, but then make your own decisions. I no longer live based on traditions or threats. I constantly review my world, then choose what is right for me. I can be anybody I want to be.

Sometimes we make what we feel are the right choices, but they are not. That comes with being human. Sometimes the best life decisions come from the messes we first make. We learn as we go. We learn as we try things. We become more connected to who we are, what we believe and what we feel, as we encounter life. This helps us learn how to choose more wisely. This helps us invent our personal and customized lives – lives that are just right for each of us – not a “one-size-fits-all” life.Our voice must lead the customization.

So consider the following as you start each day to live your best life:

1. What am I good at and do I get to do it each day?
2. What do I love about life and do I add it to my life each day?
3. Who matters to me and do I have enough time with him/her each day?
4. Do I value what I think more than what others think?
5. Do I see life as a great adventure and that no matter what comes my way, I know I have what I need to make it extraordinary?

I believe life has the potential to be great. But you choose how great you want it to be.

I also believe that you get to be who you are. Actually, you must be who you are because someone or something greater than you thought you should be you. And if you discover all that you are (talents, passions and strengths) and use them each day, you will live your best life and bring your best to the world. You get to be you. How great is that?

By the way, listen to the song or read the entire set of lyrics of Everything Possible. You’ll be impressed.

Jay Forte is a motivational and business speaker, workplace and life coach. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, The Hunt for Opportunities Success Manual and the on-line resource, Stand Out and Get Hired. His new book, The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform the World is due out in September 2010. He works to connect people to their talents and passions to live fired up! More information at www.LiveFiredUp.com.

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

Posted by Jay Forte on July 31st, 2010 in Career, Family, General, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality, Things We Love | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , ,

19 mar

Live Fired Up!

JayFortePeople tell us life is tough, tense and difficult. And we believe it.

I don’t listen to what people say. I think life should be thrilling, exciting and energizing. Life is not a dress rehearsal so I want to be passionate, enthusiastic and fired up in my one shot at life.

We choose how we live. We allow the discussion in our heads to direct us. And today, much of this discussion is negative – it highlights the things we can’t, shouldn’t, or couldn’t do. We dwell on it and soon we believe that is the way it must be…it will be. But, we can redirect this internal dialog to positive; our self-talk can be optimistic. Our choice.

I find the reason why many people are more negative than positive is they do not know themselves well. As has been said, “We fear because we forget how capable we are.” We activate our negative self-talk because we forget (or don’t know) how talented, wise and competent we are. By knowing ourselves well, we learn how to use our hardwired talents, strengths and passions to successfully direct our lives to areas that support what we are good at and love doing. This engages our confidence and competence. This activates our positive self-talk. This helps to fire us up.

Many people also look to others to make their lives great. We want our partners, spouses, friends and families to make our lives fun, dynamic and easy. Though they are part of this process, the choice of being thrilled (or bored) about life belongs to each of us – not to others. It is our responsibility to choose how we move through life in the best and most fired up way.

Though I write, speak and teach about connecting to talents and passions, and getting fired up in work and life, I still have my days where the negative and challenging thoughts are louder than the positive ones. I know this will happen so I created a list of things I can do get myself re-fired up – re-energized – and back on the ride of life. Here are some of my techniques to light the fire instead of dousing the flame. Use these and share what works for you:

  1. Laugh. A minute of laughing can boost your immune system for more than 24 hours (a minute of anger weakens your immune system for 4 hours). So find humor in everything. People are naturally comical, pets too. Stop finding faults and find humor. (I have the klutz gene –it is a family trait. If I got upset every time I bumped into something or tripped on something, I would always be upset. Instead, it is a great opportunity to laugh).
  2. Read an inspirational quote or text. Find authors, famous or familiar people who move you with their perspectives, attitudes or energy. Keep these handy.
  3. Think about two great things that have happened in the last day, hour or even minute. Dwell on these, not on the things that did not work so well. Applaud yourself for your great work, even if you were the only one who noticed it. Praise and (a little) self-praise are good ways to stay fired up.
  4. Develop a network of fired up contacts – people you can contact to help you reconnect to your fire. The commitment, however, is you are the same resource for them. Sometimes we need a little help to get the fire going again.
  5. Do something kind or unexpected. Send a card, make a call, serve your kids, partner or spouse breakfast in bed, make your favorite desert or meal and bring it to a friend. Get out of yourself and pay attention to someone else. Their reactions will fire you up.
  6. Tell a story about a time when you were younger that highlights happy and great times. Show pictures, watch home movies and share feelings. Celebrate your personal stories. Never miss providing an ovation after a story. Everyone loves some applause. It fires us up.
  7. Make the ordinary things around you, extraordinary. Dinner – ordinary. Dinner with the best dishes, flowers and cloth napkins – extraordinary. Lunch – ordinary. Lunch with candles, a card, your favorite soup and music – extraordinary. Bring home flowers. Make your own scented water to spray on the laundry. Stack laundry with each person’s name on it and a surprise in the bottom of each pile. Change the color of your front door – to something that gets the neighbors talking. Buy something bright to liven up an ordinary room. Notice “ordinary” then do something to make it extraordinary. You get a “two-fer” – a “two for” the price of one fire up. You get something extraordinary and you get fired up doing it.
  8. Music – high-energy music can get you fired up. Turn it up loud, close the door and dance. And if you have the nerve, dance with the door open and invite others to join you. Find your fire up song and play it when you need to get energizing. My favorite “change my mood” song is Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas’s “Smooth.” My favorite get fired up and dance songs are Frankie Valli’s Oh, What A Night, Annie Lennox’s “Little Bird” or Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold.” What are yours? (I know you have some.)
  9. Go for an “inspired walk.” Some people find inspiration on a busy city street with lots of action. Others find inspiration in a quiet walk on a beach, through the woods or in the mountains. Bring your iPod with inspirational music (your definition of inspirational) to add to the moment. Or, just learn to listen to hustle, or the natural quiet. Get reconnected to your internal fire with others or by yourself, whichever activates you.
  10. Make plans for fun. Once a week plan an event that gets you excited. Try a new restaurant. See a movie. Go to a lecture. Do yoga. Buy an outrageous coffee drink. Have game night with your family or friends. Host an American Idol, reality show, awards show or big game evening. Start a dinner club with other couples or singles. Host a progressive party around your neighborhood. Create one fired up event; its anticipation is energizing.
  11. Love your job. Choose a job that plays to what you are good at and love doing. Know yourself well enough to know how to play to your talents, strengths and passions. A job of purpose, power and passion will keep you energized and fired up throughout the day.

Some say life is tough. And some feel they should suffer through life. Go ahead. That is not for me; that is not the story of life I intend to write. I have learned the more I know myself, the more I can direct my response to my world and play to my strengths. I can control my response to conflict and put myself into more areas of joy, happiness and energy. My choice.

We are amazing creatures. Each of us is hardwired with amazing gifts – unique gifts – that take much of our lives to interpret and learn to use. We did not arrive on the planet with an owner’s manual; we write it each day as we live. The more and quicker we learn about ourselves, the more and sooner we get introduced to the things that make us sizzle and those that make us fizzle. So, figure out how to add more sizzle. Then live fired up!

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

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

Posted by Jay Forte on March 19th, 2010 in Career, Family, General, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality, Things We Love | 2 comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , ,