My ten-year-old daughter came home from school this week and announced she was running for mayor of "J.A. Biz Town" - a mock town for their Junior Achievement curriculum. Today she has due a short speech on why she would make a good mayor. She started it by saying, "I will be a good mayor because I am mature and responsible, and I will be respectful to all the citizens..."
I have a long-held policy never to mix business with politics or religion. Today I find myself at a crossroads.
I am one of those people who watches election debates and ongoing coverage starting in the primaries. I read up on candidates - from school board to President. I vote for individuals and records, not parties or ads. And I don't campaign. Not even a yard sign. Yet after the debate Monday night... rather than my usual all fired up by the whole democratic process self - I was totally disturbed. I decided I had to shut it off until November... that all I could do was vote. Then I heard a voice in my head that reminded me - I have more than a vote. I have a voice. And I can't not use it. Not this time. It's too important.
Forget politics. Forget policy. Forget party. Here is what disturbs me. Too often it feels these days, I find myself in a conversation with my daughter about a classmate at school who is being a bully. Her feelings are hurt, and she doesn't understand why anyone would be like that. What I try to help her understand is that it has nothing to do with her. A bully is not confident. A bully is actually insecure - and the only reason they insult other people is to make themselves feel big - that they try to feel big by making someone else feel small, because they don't feel big on their own. And so you can stick up for yourself, but you don't stoop or engage. When they go low, you go high.
In my daughter's life all she has known is an African-American President and a potential female president. Can you imagine that kind of perspective? To her these aren't historical elections. This is normal. But what happens if that norm, if the next president does not believe you need to be "mature, responsible, and... respectful to all the citizens." What if the next President is a bully? Do we not think it will matter that our kids are watching? Are we really that desperate? I'm all for change. I'm tired of politics as of late. But this? This may be change, but boy I think we need to be very careful, and much more specific, about what we wish for.
What if - what if he wasn't a presidential nominee - what if he was a school principal or teacher or coach? And what if that "leader" loudly, publicly and rudely criticized a female student for her appearance or her weight. Can you imagine? Seriously. He would be fired so fast your head would spin. (Which is totally hypothetical since he wouldn't have been hired in the first place - because we wouldn't have allowed that influence for our kids, right?)
How it feels to me is that it has less to do with making America great again - and more to do with one person's need to fill a personal hole that will never be full. I was at yoga class the other night and it was really cool. The instructor asked us to close our eyes and visualize walking through a day where our life was exactly how we wanted it. Where we felt full. And fulfilled. And at peace. The question was how will you know when you are there? It's a different definition of success. The kind that doesn't beg for more. Because you can be a billionaire and a celebrity - but if other areas of your life aren't full - there will never be enough money or fame. You continue to need more and more and more. And so how do you fill that hole - when you don't look inside to be full - and you seemingly have it all (and Olympic gold can't be bought or bullied)? Where else do you turn for more money and power and status... to the most powerful job in the world. This isn't about helping US. This is about us helping someone fill a cup that will never be full.
I believe our country is great. Not perfect but great. And I know we may not agree on certain philosophies or issues - but I do believe we can and ultimately will, collectively, decide that although we may crave change, we deserve far better than a school yard bully. That if change is what we want - WE ALREADY HAVE THE POWER. No one person or party will improve our lives more than we can improve our own. The answer is not to passively wait for change to happen to us - we happen to it. The answer is not to elect someone out of desperation who we would not want our children to observe and emulate. The answer is to be confident and strong and hopeful... and DONE. What do you want? And how will you know when you are there? Take the first step. Know it's possible. Have the courage. Fill YOUR cup, not someone else's - because you are DONE playing small. And for the absolute love of all that is good and holy, get out and vote!!!
Today is my birthday (9/23)!!! I LOVE my birthday. What other day gets to be just about you? And since I am a really good boss, I blocked off my calendar today to do whatever I want. So I'm starting my day with my weekly call to my Energy Leadership coach, which may sound like work, but a) I love what I do, and b) we talk about busting through fear - standing tall. And what a good way to start the day. Then, as I thought this week about how I wanted to spend my day - my initial thought was yoga and reading a book. And to get out my notebook and brainstorm some thoughts about the book I'm going to write. It's been bubbling up in me lately, the ideas. So I'm excited to see what shows up when I put pen to paper - and what I end up doing for my day. Then after dinner we plan to go to a movie as a family and afterward for some ice cream.
This birthday marks year 45. Which is getting close to mid-life I figure. I plan to be one of those awesomely healthy people at 100 who they wrote about in the Blue Zones book. And this year - is the year of Strong. This past year - year 44 (and 2016) has been the year of getting organized and focused - and now that I feel solidly in that zone - with a few laps (or boxes of junk) left before we turn the corner into 2017, this year now I plan to kick some ass. Who is with me? I was just talking to someone today about that energy. When I think about and really visualize how strength feels - and what I want to bring forward - I think about when my daughter plays volleyball. Reese is 10 years old and in the fifth grade. She has been playing volleyball for a couple of years on her school team. Since she was about four she has tried soccer, t-ball, basketball and volleyball. None of the others have clicked, which is perfectly fine, but this one recently has. We saw glimpses of it last year. She had fun and loved to practice and play. But this year it's more serious. My favorite part is not the serves or the volleys or the wins - but how she bounces the ball right before she is about to serve. She gets up to the line, and she does not just bounce the ball, she bounces the ball. She nails that ball with her palm, a couple of times. And the determination and look in her eyes - I wish I could bottle it. I could watch it a hundred times over. It is this "game on" energy. I love it. And so as I was the speaker at a lunch networking meeting yesterday - my goal was not about what I said, but the energy I brought - and so that is what I visualized - Reese bouncing the ball right before her serve. That is the energy, the strong that is going to fuel this next year. Because... do I even need to say it? I am DONE playing small!!
I read a book last weekend written by Matt Birk of all people - a former Vikings player. It is titled "All-Pro Wisdom" and in it he talks about seven choices that lead to greatness. There were lots of good nuggets - about character and how you want to show up and about the need for goals, mentors and a spiritual source - but the thing that stood out the most was this: "Winners focus on execution. Losers focus on results." I have been thinking about it a lot this week. And I have heard it make it's way in to more than one coaching call. We can't control the results, only our actions. And so we focus on and measure those. And if we want great results, we do the consistent work and hold ourselves accountable to that standard.
The other thing I did just today actually (I'm writing this on Thursday, the day before my birthday - because no, this next story is not something I chose for MY day) is I went through my big box of business cards - from eight years of networking - and filled my 96-slot business card holder with the people I would most refer to others. These ranged from mortgage lenders to massage therapists to bookkeepers to florists - and everything in between. You name it, I have a person. About halfway through my de-cluttering project I started to think about why the people I chose to put in my business card holder, made the cut. Because in most cases I know multiple people in each industry. So I wrote it down - professionalism, very good at what they do, clear about what they do, focused on relationships versus being aggressive about the next sale and - I sincerely and simply just like them. Everyone fit all five. Which got me thinking about myself - which also ties into the Matt Birk book - how do I choose to show up? If those are the qualities that attract me, that is also how I want to be known. So I got honest with myself about how I stacked up in each area, where I excel and what I can improve (all this from cleaning out business cards.) And so this is also how I want to grow myself, in a stronger way, this coming year.
So, I challenge you... to do two things today. Think about how it will FEEL when you are in the zone, doing the consistent action each day, to improve in whatever area(s) of your life you want to improve. Find a visual, like the bounce of the volleyball, to pull forward when you need some extra energy or inspiration. And second, think about the people you would put in a business card holder and what qualities they possess - how you want to show up. Then take a minute to get honest about how you compare - where you excel and how you can grow. Then combine those two things - how it will FEEL to kick ass, and the person you strive to be. Then go make it happen. Have a great day.
I am constantly amazed by the power of the mind. As I've said before I am working with a business/life coach who works with something called "Energy Leadership." I just finished the book this weekend, with the same title, by Bruce Schneider - if you are interested. It talks about seven levels of energy. From the Level 1 energy of someone who thinks as a victim, to the Level 7 energy of someone who thinks without judgement. And a whole lot in between. What it boils down to for me is... we are what we think. Kind of like "you are what you eat." :)
It makes me think of some of my old thoughts I have since, thankfully, shifted. I used to think I would always be overweight. That it was just how my body was meant to be. That I was big boned... it was in my genes. And I vividly remember the very first day I drove in to my first "real job." I remember thinking, at 25, that this was going to be my life five days a week for the next 40 years. And not so many years ago, I remember thinking we would never get out of debt. And I would never be healthy again and get to live a "normal" life.
And until I believed something different, all those things were true. It goes back to the old Henry Ford saying about whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right. In every single instance, regardless of how badly I wanted something - it wasn't until I believed it, that it became possible. I think back to how many countless, COUNTLESS diets I tried in 27 years. Hundreds. But I always believed I would gain it all back. And I did. Every time. Until I got pissed off enough, and supported enough, to believe it was possible to actually be a healthy person.
And it was once I believed it was possible to have the life where I can work from home, on my own time, under my own direction - with great balance - that it became possible.
And it was when I believed I was capable of managing our finances with ease, on a daily basis, and live totally debt free, that we have begun to rapidly move in that direction.
And it was once I believed with all my heart that I could be a healthy person - and not be a foregone conclusion of a diagnosis - that I have turned a significant corner.
I hear something in my clients - and have felt it myself - that says "once it happens I will believe it." Once I get to a healthy weight and maintain it - I will believe it is possible. Once I make enough to let go of my "real job" and work for myself - I will believe it is possible. Once I become debt free - I will believe it is possible. Think about this for a minute. Where do you see this show up, in your own thoughts? What are you waiting to believe? Write it down if it helps. Then, understand - even though it might feel a little scary - that waiting until something happens, to believe it is possible, is ass backwards!!
For example, I had a client call this week with a woman who has lost 90-some pounds and has gained back around 20. When we got talking about what she believes, her fear is that she will not be able to "maintain" and will gain it all back. There is no doubt in my mind she is fully capable of living a healthy life at a healthy weight, and being an inspiration to others. But I'm no the one who needs to believe it. She needs to believe it. First. In order to make it happen. Not once it happens.
This is why I think vision boards are such a powerful tool. They help you see what you want. Make it tangible. It's kind of like how when you build a house, before they even break ground, in your head you are in that house. You see the paint color and the furniture and you feel how it's going to feel to live in that space. You make it come alive. It's the same thing that needs to happen for any goal and dream. You make it real. And when you cut out those pictures and paste them on your board - it's like calling your 8-ball in the corner pocket You start to choose it. And believe it is possible. Because you can see it. You can more easily put yourself there. And know you are going to do it. And it is going to feel awesome. So please - if you want more for yourself - and you want to surround yourself with some awesome energy - come make vision boards with us at my house tomorrow!! (You can still sign up.) And MAKE UP YOUR MIND. Because there is nothing more powerful than a made up mind that believes that what you want is possible.
Mar . ket . ing: The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.
I had a coaching call this morning that got me thinking about marketing. My client was told by her doctor
to increase her intake of calcium to support greater bone density related to menopause. Fine. Sounds like good advice. Not that I would assert otherwise anyway, as I am not a doctor - but it did sound reasonable. The interesting part though, was that both parties assumed the only way to get calcium was through dairy.
I have two words for you: "Got Milk?" My point is not to dispute dairy, but to point out the power of marketing. For instance, below is a short list of foods that contain calcium, and how much, from a book titled, The Kind Diet. Milk is not the only source. Just the only one with a memorable brand and lots of star power.
Calcium milligrams, per 100-gram serving (100 grams = 3.5oz or 1/2 cup)
Whole milk 118
Collard green 203
Sesame seeds 1,160
Hijiki sea vegetable 1,400
Interesting, isn't it? (I'll assume your next question is: "What's a hijiki sea vegetable? Google it.)
Here is my rule of thumb: Never make decisions on how you vote or what you eat based on ads. Do your homework! On that note (not to get political) here is another fact I find interesting... According to OpenSecrets.org, the number one campaign contributor in the state of Minnesota in the 2016 election cycle - is the sugar industry; American Crystal Sugar to be specific. And four additional major food-based companies are listed among the top 20 donors.
Do your homework!!! Get informed. This is your health. This is your life. Be DONE playing small. Look around. Really observe the marketing. Read the boxes - not just the nutritional label, but the marketing on the package. Watch the commercials. Observe restaurant menus. Notice the messages. Become aware of all the ways your decisions about health are influenced by paid advertising or marketing. Then go back up and read the definition at the top of this blog. The purpose of marketing is to motivate you, the consumer, to buy something - which may or may not be in your best interest. Do some brands and retailers have a core mission that is about more than money, yes. Figure out who they are. Don't be a victim. You have a mind. You have a choice. Use them!
That's all I have for today. But now you have a job for the week. I would love to hear your biggest a-ha!