How do we really define “risk”?

Darren Hardy, publisher of Success Magazine and someone I met in October of 2009 at Greg Reid‘s Three Feet From Gold celebration in Anaheim, has hit a home run with his current article entitled “Being Overly Optimistic Can Be Dangerous.”

Really? Are people really thinking that “risk” means “reckless abandon”? Apparently some do, and that’s how risk gets a bad rap.

Check out the post here where Darren distinguishes between CALCULATED risk and reckless abandon. I wish I’d written it myself!

http://darrenhardy.success.com/2010/11/being-overly-optimistic/

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Thriving or Just Surviving?

I met with a potential client this morning and we were talking about the distinction in his organization between external customer service and internal customer service.

His organization is a service-based company, and they consistently rank at the top nationally for external customer service awards from their parent company. The owner is a remote owner, meaning he doesn’t live in the community. So when he makes his regular visits to the company, he’s always very appreciative of their efforts which earn them the external rewards and awards.

However, what I learned this morning is that in internal employee relations and internal customer service, this company ranks near the bottom. The morale internally is very low and, while the workers go out of their way to provide top-notch service, even after hours, to external customers, they’re getting to the point now where they’re starting to wonder why they even care anymore, since, unless the owner is in the house, the internal appreciation is lacking, to say the least.

So this got me thinking … where in our lives are we just surviving? Just putting in our time? Woody Allen said that 90% of success in life is just showing up, but I’m not sure I agree. Just showing up is easy. Everyone can do that. But not everyone is willing to do more than that, which means that those who thrive, not just survive, are those who step into fear or discomfort or resistance and come out on the other side better for their efforts.

If your organization is one where it’s no fun to “just show up” anymore, is there something you can do to add that extra 10%? Can you be the catalyst for positive energy internally? Or is your bucket drained? If you’ve done everything you can and still can’t seem to find the joy at work, maybe now is the time to create something new for yourself.

Or, maybe it’s time to join a Think and Grow Rich study group. We’ll be starting another one in a couple of weeks so watch for more details!

Fear of Speaking … or Fear of What to Say?

I’ve heard from many sources that next to death, the fear of public speaking is right up on the top of the list of fears.

But, as a public speaker now for the past five years, I’m beginning to believe that it’s not so much the fear of actually speaking as it is the fear of not having something to say.

Until we know that and can identify it, we will avoid every situation which might require us to speak in public, believing it’s the actual speaking that’s the problem. After all, what is a belief but a thought we think over and over and over again until we believe it.

I’ve seen passionate non-speakers get up in front of Congress and tell about an issue they’re passionate about. I’ve seen parents who are desperate to find missing children get in front of microphones and press conferences and speak from their hearts about their kids. I’ve seen joyful people express their joy without even thinking about it in front of crowds of people at weddings and events and plays.

It’s not the speaking part, it’s the what to say part.

I know. Because if I have any struggles with speaking, it’s the “what to say” part.

It may come as a surprise to people who know me now, but self-confidence has always been my biggest hurdle to overcome. I’m betting it’s that way for most people who can identify with perfectionistic behavior. We try to be perfect because we see ourselves as everything but perfect. We play big to disguise our belief that if we don’t, we’ll disappear into nothingness.

Who I say I am (a perfectionist, a loser, a winner, a lawyer, a mother, a slacker) has nothing to do with who I really am. And, if you have faith in something greater than yourself, the truth is you are created in the image of the Creator. So it doesn’t really matter what you do to disguise that, to make it bigger than it is or smaller, that’s the ego part of you doing it, not the higher part.

Wayne Dyer uses EGO as an acronym: Edging God Out. Anything any of us does to enhance who are really are or to diminish it is ego.

I struggled with that a couple of years ago when I was wondering how I would ever market and promote my own business without being egotistic about it. I called in to Marianne Williamson’s XM radio show and asked her that question. She gave me advice I will never forget. She said,

“What you need to remember, Jodee, is that you are the faucet, not the water. When you notice yourself identifying with the water, you’ll know you are in ego.”

Wow.

So speaking isn’t the problem. When I remember that I’m the faucet, the water flows through easily. It’s when I think I have to have something profound to say or need to solve problems or need to be clever or witty or anything other than what I am that I get scared.

Every morning I say these three sentences to start the day: “What would you have me do? Where would you have me go? What would you have me say and to whom?” And when I get out of the way, the words are just there.

So spend more time just being. Get out of the way and let the words come to you.

And I’ll bet it won’t be about speaking at all.

What’s the next fear to conquer?

Freedom Is Not Without Risk!

I’d like to introduce you to a relatively new friend of mine – Beth Laderman – from California, who is my guest poster for today.

I met Beth last October during my trip to California in celebration of the life of Napoleon Hill and the launch of Greg Reid‘s book Three Feet From Gold. During that trip, I had the pleasure of spending time with my good friends Mandi and Sue, and visited Mandi’s chorus, Harborlites, where I met Beth.

Beth and I share some of the same passions, including acappella singing, but also learning and teaching the distinction between “singing” and “bringing.”

I’m happy to introduce Beth, who shares here her new-found freedom (or, as we call it here in Fargo, emancipation from your W-2). Congrats, Beth – and on to more riskful thinking!

Meditations on Freedom

by Beth Laderman

I keep a journal where I ask questions and then write the answers that occur to me while I’m thinking about the question.  It is a way of keeping myself from focusing on the problem or question and getting to the answer. My question to myself on a regular, almost daily basis for the last year that I sat in my office was, “What am I doing here?”  The answer was always the same:  “Earning a paycheck.”

I wrote in my journal several times about the fact that I needed a paycheck, since I was not independently wealthy, possessed of superpowers, or magically able to produce money from air. The ‘Answer Voice’ replied in its typically calm way, “You are exchanging your superpowers and abilities for a paycheck.”

Now that was an interesting thought.  I could have superpowers and abilities that I was just not expressing?  I could be free, but I was choosing to exchange freedom for security?  That suddenly seemed so…un-American.  I began thinking about what freedom meant to me.  This is the list I came up with – all of which were things I felt I did not have:

  • Financial security
  • Family togetherness
  • Creativity (writing, painting, music)
  • Meaningful work
  • Perfect health
  • Freedom to explore the world

When I wrote this list, I realized that all the items came down to one thing – being free of the need to work for a living, i.e. being financially free.  It was a thought that was in itself so alien that I first reacted to it negatively (“Well, that will never happen!”)

I thought many times about leaving my most recent job, since it didn’t satisfy me in any way except monetarily, but I could not bring myself to quit without some other way of earning a living.  Then, just recently, I was laid off – with severance, fortunately, and I really began to experience freedom.

There is something wonderful and yet scary about freedom.  I spent many hours in boring and unproductive meetings at my job longing for my freedom, but at the moment of truth, I would not reach for it.  There was too much risk involved in taking the leap and leaving behind the security of a paycheck.  In my mind, I equated freedom with risk and therefore a sense of the possibility of loss.

I think that’s what was keeping me, and probably many of us bound to jobs and careers and other situations that are inherently unsatisfying.  We are afraid to lose our houses, our possessions, and ultimately, our lives.  I think we humans are not trained very well in how to use our freedom; how to find our passion and pursue it, and how to believe in ourselves and our abilities.

Think about it – did you ever have a course in freedom or success in school?  My own experiences in this area have been self-taught – wandering the bookstores and libraries of my neighborhood and gravitating by some unseen force to books on success, on the secret alchemy of how to achieve personal dreams.  Once I read enough of these books and realized that the principles in them worked, I began to believe that I could change my reality – that I could escape the rat race and be free.

Would I have voluntarily chosen this freedom?  Maybe not, but I’m incredibly glad I’m experiencing it.  The goal I’ve set for myself is ‘to become financially free’ instead of ‘get another job.’  I could get another job, but what I want to prove to myself is that I don’t need one.  I want to show myself that I can be free and that freedom isn’t synonymous with lacking or losing anything.  Do I know what I’m doing?  Not exactly, but I know what I’m thinking – that I can do this.  And that is the first step in becoming free – thinking you can be!

Thanks, Beth, for this thought-provoking (and hopefully action-producing) post!

Choose to really live today

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” -Jack London

I don’t remember where I first heard this quote, but I have it framed in my office. And although I don’t look at it every day, I know this is how I want to live my life. Wanting to and actually doing it are not the same things, however.

I’m wondering today how many people I come into contact with, either personally or through an email or news story, are actually living their lives and how many are merely existing.

If you choose to really live, I’ll bet you run the risk of stepping on some toes or ruffling some feathers or challenging others to really live, too. Should that be any reason not to fully live your own life? How many times during any given day do we surrender our own dreams and goals because we have a belief that someone else might not want us to? And the really strange part of that belief is that, more often than not, it’s not even true.

Many times we get so caught up in what we think others think that we don’t even stop and examine whether that belief actually serves anyone.

I’ve read a couple of books recently that gave me a lot of ideas about how – or even whether – I’m living my own life. The first was Being the Solution by Darel Rutherford. Although there were many great ideas in that book, the one I’m thinking of today is what he calls the box we’ve drawn around our lives called our reality. In fact, he says we are boxed in by our reality and, although we have the power to choose to get out of that box, most people won’t because it’s outside our comfort zones to do so. Everything we want we want from inside the box, so the only way to get what we want is to become the person who can have what we want.

The second book is one I read over the weekend called Mutant Message from Down Under by Marlo Morgan, which I had to keep reminding myself was a novel. It was very thought-provoking for me and gave me a lot to think about regarding my behavior and biases which do not serve the entire world. If I were actually choosing to live my life instead of just exist day-to-day, there are several ideas I can learn from the characters in this book who are portrayed as “The Real People,” a tribe of aborigines from Australia who accompanied the author on a “walkabout” across the continent.

So, bottom line: is it riskier to choose to actually live or riskier to stay in the box, merely wanting to someday live?

Choose for yourself. As for me, today is the first day of the rest of my life and there’s no better time than today to make that choice. As Nike so eloquently articulated so many years ago: Just Do It.

Put it out there.

Yep. That’s risky.

As soon as a statement leaves your mouth, it’s out in the ether. And it’s into existence. It’s declared.

We’ve heard over the years about the importance of putting our goals in writing. I agree. It’s very important to do that so that we have a record and can see, in tangible form, what we’re up to.

But there’s something special about the spoken word that I think we often overlook.

When theorizing about integrity, we make a big deal about The Word. Even the Bible did that (“In the beginning was The Word.”). In The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz says the first agreement is “Be impeccable with your word.”

Yet we tend to put more stock in things we can touch (a written plan) than things we declare (the spoken word).

What is your word worth? As it’s spoken into existence, doesn’t that have a lot of power?

We’ve heard that “thoughts are things,” right? Thanks to Mike Dooley and TUT, I am reminded of that every morning. But I also realize that so few of us actually take the time to formulate thoughts in this world of busyness and hustle and bustle. We spend more time reacting than responding and since we don’t have too many conscious thoughts, we don’t create too many conscious “things.”

We end up getting really good at seeing all the “things” we don’t want in our lives – the “things” (translation: people, situations, events, etc.) that are just showing up because we DON’T want them. We use our words very flippantly (“Oh, you know what I meant”) and then we wonder why we we’re not happy.

We’re great at speaking – we do it all the time and, in my opinion, probably way too much. We speak without thinking and we produce results by that speaking. We train people every day how to treat us by what we say and how we say it because we are declaring things out loud. When we put things on paper, we have some editing time and we write what we actually think about. But maybe when we don’t produce results from those goals it’s because we’re not speaking them out loud.

So today put it out there. Think about what you want to accomplish. Choose your words carefully and mindfully. Get a trusted buddy and really declare your commitments. Out loud. And repeat over and over until those thoughts become intended things.

Take a cue from the writers (and proclaimers) of the Declaration of Independence.

To summarize: Think. Choose. Declare. Observe. Tweak. Repeat as often as needed. Enjoy Results.

What are you saying?

Sometimes we ask that question of others when we know there is something underlying what is being said verbally. We might imply, “what are you really saying?” when we know there is more to the story.

Today I’m asking that question literally, as in, “what is coming out of your mouth every day, even when you’re not noticing?”

It’s so interesting to notice that every day people are training others how to treat them by the way they are treating others, and also by what they are saying. I love this quote:

“Great people talk about ideas.
Average people talk about things.
Small people talk about other people.”

What are you talking about? What are you saying about other people?

I used to be someone who talked about other people and I also listened when other people talked about other people. It used to be fun to get down into the mud with others. It made me feel accepted because I know that when I was a kid I was the one people were talking about. I was bigger and smarter than other kids (and my mom was a teacher, no less) so there was plenty to talk about. So when I outgrew the “being talked about” stage, I’m sure I joined with those doing the talking.

But who does it serve to talk about others? If there is something you don’t like or don’t approve of or are upset about regarding another person, what good does it do to tell anyone other than the person him or herself?

Another reminder I’ve thought a lot about: “What good does it do?” with emphasis on the word “good.”

What is your intention? Peace and harmony? Kudos and attention? Being right?

Sure, there are public figures out there who say things I may not agree with. But what good do I do by calling them out? Am I willing to stand for something or am I merely fighting against them? What does what I say say about me?

If you are really passionate about a topic or subject, speak about it. Stand for it. Attract attention about it. But don’t talk about other people. Don’t fight against what you don’t want. We don’t need any more attention on those things we don’t want.

Make a commitment to yourself and the world to use your words thoughtfully and mindfully.