Tuesday, January 26, 2010

You Are Allowed to Forget

Often I am asked by my audiences why they are not achieving their goals. In the years of discussing this topic, a prevailing theme arises. They cannot forget their past mistakes, their past circumstance, or their past dysfunctional relationships. One of the rules I teach is the past and even current circumstances have no bearing on your future.

I once heard a wise statement from a highly successful NFL coach about that the best ability he finds in a wide receiver. He looked straight into the reporters eyes and said his ability to forget the last play, especially when he dropped the pass.

Forgetting is essential to success. It does not matter how poor you are now. It does not matter that you did not get a higher education. It does not matter that you have a zero-supportive family.

Here are the facts today. You want a better life. You are willing to work towards a better life. You will not be deterred. That is all you need to win.

There are 2.5 million millionaires in the US of which the majority are first generation rich. That means no trust funds, no golden brick road laid before them. The majority earned their wealth. The self-made millionaire believes in her/his own abilities. They also believe that their background is no indicator of their future.

Achieving is about mind control. Imagine a NBA player at the free throw line. The crowd is booing him. Opposing fans behind the basket wave their arms, have loud noisemakers, and jeer "you suck." The professional athlete is not deterred from his objective. A minute later, two baskets drop, and he's proven himself a champion again.

Your past can be the annoy background ready to distract you if you give it any attention. Ever have that family member or friend sit across the dining table telling you "you're stupid if you think you will be better than anyone else." Ignore, forget, and move on.

Instead of sitting on the negative circumstances, focus on the lesson which you had to learn. Perhaps the lesson from the unsupportive friend is not to share your future aspirations with that person. The blessing of the knowledge the mistake brought to your attention. Log that lesson so you won't do it again, then move on. This applies to test taking, romantic relationships, friendships, sports, investments, and even conversations/email/txt.

Those who cannot move on are willfully handcuffing themselves to the past. Paraphrasing Einstein's wisest words: you cannot use the same thinking that created the problem/situation to get out of it. Our challenge is to find new ways to approach familiar situations like a debt, bad relationship decisions, dietary choices, or a negative parent/friend/boss.

Forget and forgive those with whom you had negative interactions. Forgive yourself for any mistakes as well. Today is a new chance for small steps of change. A simple decision such as I will keep my calm can start a chain reaction of bigger positive change. Your selective attention to the past as well as present is a skill to master.

Think of a hot stove. You burnt your finger once. You didn't stop using the stove. Lesson logged, moving on.

You are a different person from yesterday. If your mind only holds one thought pattern at a time, hold the ones which bring joy and positive feelings about reaching your life goals. Give yourself a license to forget the negative.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Logic in Crying

A childhood friend of mine passed from kidney cancer in January. It was devastatingly quick like a Kansas tornado. Though we had not been in touch for years, I cried deeply since my heart remembered how kind and generous his friendship was when I was a 14-yr old kid.

I logically know many things. A bodies are temporary houses for our souls. There is a restful heaven for our souls. Our souls pass thru many lives. Our souls are eternal. We come into this life to learn lessons of love. With all the knowledge, I still cry when someone passes. My memory affirms my friend Kien Tran graced the world. Even with all his own troubles, he gave the world generosity and kindness.

Tears sing that we loved the departed soul for its time being in physical form with us. When a soul leaves our world, those still on earth sit with the question did they love the departed person enough, and are we loving those alive enough today.

Our tears are a gift to snap us out of the mindless daily grind. When we cry we really cannot do much else. Our eyes are blur with water, lungs exhale only sadness, words are lost, hands unsteady with grief. Crying is the fool-proof mechanism for us to pause and remember why we are here: to love.

The catharsis from a movie, seeing the mourning people of Haiti, a love ballad: all these are signs for us to pause and hold love in our hearts of others, and for the blessings we have. Welcome a crying break from life when it comes. It's God's way of saying remember to love more. I love you, pass it on.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Those Who Travel the Furthest

There was a headline news story of a family on vacation in the Grand Canyon whose beloved dog wonders off and could not be found. With coyotes, snakes, and deep crevasses in the wild canyon, hope faded for the family pet after many days of search. The heart-sunk family reluctantly goes home, 1000s of miles away. Months later, the dog shows up on the front lawn. It is a miracle! The dog found its way home!

Everyday in America, dogs are lost. Yet news reporters ignore poodles wondering in the park. It's only a headliner when it's a feat of dramatic triumph. Dog travels for two months to get back to loving home. What would make you traverse canyons and highways on foot? What's your front page story?

Today, you're about to start you on a triumphant journey. Some people will call the trek a Hero's Journey. And like all heroic tales, when one starts rock bottom and climbs to the top, the paparazzi go wild.

Rock bottom is personal to each of us. Are you in debt over your nose, overweight, without a romantic relationship, wearing 90's clothes, jobless? Feels like a million miles of mountains between where you are now and where you want to be. Looks futile, doesn't it?

I had heard of people being over 400-lbs, yet to see a 500-lb man on the Biggest Loser show was a horrible train wreck I never wanted to witness. However sad of shape those people may be, the Biggest Lower show has proven the morbidly obesity can win their life back. If a 500-lb man, who's heart races as he sits upright, can lose 45-lbs in two weeks, your excuses are now annoying noise.

The sympathy choir has gone home. No one is listening to why you cannot have your most amazing life. You don't have rich parents? Never got a college degree? So what. Yes, so what if you're a single mom or you're physically limited. Look around, all the excuses have been used up by him and her, and heck those two there have a three pack of pity-me excuses. None are left for you. You're starting work on your dream today.

Your dream was that vision you have of the perfect 2-story house, a loving spouse who's your perfect compliment, kids gleefully playing tag, a BMW, and a secure job which easily affords your family vacations twice a year. Or did your mind dare to wonder into greater visions of fame and jet-set fortune. Ah-ha, we have a covert Rock Star on our hands...super!

Your future life vision is currently far from the reality of sitting alone in a small apartment, late on rent. Yet that doesn't stop the process of change which you can initiate today with a single thought. "My life is limitless. I move forward today and everyday." Nothing can stop your imagining a better life. Your imagination is limitless, thus is your life. Once upon a time, no one thought we could fly. Then no one thought we could see space, then no one thought we could carry computers in our jean pocket. Do you see where imagination has taken the world?

Recall that lost dog so far from home. All it wanted, all it knew was to it had to find the love of its family, the green lawn to run in, and the warm bed next to it's master. The dog wanted nothing else, and nothing was going to get in its path to home.

The vision of your future life is your future home. Be the dog taking each and every small step because it won't be happy if it doesn't get home. The blistered paws will be worth it. Is your future dream life worth it? Is your vision strong enough to keep you moving towards "your home?" Claim it as your new home, even if it's only a vision in your mind.

If you're under a Titanic of debt, paying $20 today is chipping away at it. Forward progress. Be proud you paid off $20; you are moving towards financial freedom. See, each day, it gets better. Yes, each day you work towards you dream is better than yesterday.

You're the Michelangelo of your life, start chipping at your personal masterpiece. God gave us the ability to dream and imagine so we could know our potential. Current circumstances do not, repeat, do not have any bearing on your future. There's nothing that you cannot repair, forget, leave behind, ignore, and/or overcome. Like the eggshell where the tiny chick emerges. Thanks for the shelter but I'm moving on now.

Truthfully, the poorer you are, the less advantages you have, the steeper social ladder you have to climb, the dire illness you have to overcome, equals more fanfare awaiting you. Everyone loves a underdog story.

Keep the vision clear in your mind. Sit with it daily so your thoughts, feet, and hands will work to move towards it. The news crews are waiting for you at the goal line of your life. Oh my goodness, CNN just drove up too. I've got my camera ready too. Smile on three!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Playing Around with Your Learning Potential

Would it be great to learn a foreign language in two weeks? There are people with this capability. In the movie The Edge, Anthony Hopkins' character was a avid reader who's mantra is "if one man can do it, so can another." If a special someone can learn something at accelerated pace, what is the formula for normal people to do this amazing mental feat?

In Colin Rose's book Accelerated Learning, it was proven that when humans engage the spirit, mind, and body into an activity, rapid learning engages. Your ability to learn is hyper accelerated when you have fun. Imagine sitting in French class and just writing french phrases over and over--yawn, right.

Now image going to the Montreal, or Paris and having to speak French to do everything. See yourself going on a scavenger hunt with your classmates thru Montreal, having to ask French speaking natives questions on the city history, get small items like bandaids for free as part of the game, and find directions to various landmarks. You and your classmate fumbling thru downtown Montreal moving to different places like the train station, library, or grocery store. I wager after a week of scavenger hunting in Montreal, French would be indelibly imprinted in your mind thru the game, thru doing the action, thru imposed usage, thru your personal ingenuity.

Let the games begin! Think of things you have to learn. Can you make it a game with yourself or with your peers? The game can even be role playing the professor. Tutoring others is termed as "3rd person learning" as researched by Walter Gong at San Diego State. This is another proven method of long retention of concepts. Take turns teaching, wear a mock pair of your professor's infamous the nerd glasses, don the Berkenstocks with socks, live it up, and laugh a lot. Laughter oxygenates the brain, making it ripe to learn. Fun and games don't have to stop by 5th grade. Play around with your learning potential. You now have license to invent your own games of genius. Go get 'em Einstein!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Blame-Game: A Win-Win for Your Life

Have you ever been in a situation where you blamed others for your bad fortune? You know, someone cuts you off in traffic, or a guy you meet turns out to be a total player. Ohhh pumpkin, whatever happened, there was no possible way it was your fault. Well,... guess what, that’s a huge blatant lie, hoax, falsehood, con,... whatever you want to label it, just treat it like fruitcake and say ‘no thank you.’ There is no power in being the victim of your life.

Yes, I said VICTIM. As soon as we mentally say, ‘I had no power over the situation,’ we nodded ourselves into wearing the out-of-fashion victim hat.

A guy I dated few months in 2008, still randomly texts me. I do not respond to any of his texts, not even the Happy Valentines Day (oh please). I won’t send back a "stop texting me" message; it is not worth my time [indifference is more powerful statement than anger]. Persistent he has; my effort and attention he lost a long time ago. My attention is valuable. I am not giving any more energy to him aside from making him example for you to learn from.

You’re thinking "Solange, it’s not your fault he’s texting you." Since I figured out this victim thing, I say it is totally my fault. I say it is because I allowed him to text me when we were together.

I absolutely hate texting. I am an old school girl, call me on the phone. Meet me in person to talk about our dreams, not in 140 characters or less. So when he started to text me, I did not ask him to stop. I did not say, "I’m a bit old school, so if we are going to get to know each other, it’s going to be thru phone calls." My mistake numero uno.

I also allowed him to continue to think we were compatible. When we parted, we did not have a conversation on why we do not work romantically. He is very non-confrontational, so I could not get him to discuss our breaking up if I had Ed McMahon with his million-dollar check crew behind me. We just stopped calling each other. In my not telling him why I know we are incompatible, he still thinks there’s a chance. I did not insist on closure, so this is why I get random texts asking why I won’t talk to him. It’s all my fault. I am here, getting random text bombs, because I did not do what I was supposed to do. I totally, without any reservation, blame myself.

How is blaming myself going to empower me? We definitely know proclaiming yourself as a victim dis-empowers you. Thus, the opposite must empower you. In knowing and accepting that I did this to myself, I won’t ever let it happen again. If I say I caused it, I acknowledge that I have the power to stop myself from being there again. You can call Vegas to bet on the next guy who I date won’t be texting me.

Do you see that if you play the victim, you never analyze the events that lead you to where you are today? You in essence threw your hands up in the air, fell to the ground in your toga, saying in ancient greek, "please gods of fate have mercy on me." You have just succumbed to the worst hoax; the hoax that other factors or people control over your life.

Take back the helm of the USS Your Life. The only way you can steer to ship towards the goals you want out of life is to take full responsibility for every aspect of your life. Honestly, you deserve the life, how ever good or bad, which you have now. That’s hard to hear. The truth is like that.

Imagine a minor car accident you caused. After that fender bender, we are much more alert to the proximity of cars to our vehicle. You may even drive slower. You took full blame for the accident, thus are taking action to not let it happen again.

Now imagine an accident you did not cause like a guy not checking his blindspot and clipping your car. Yet, you're still likley decided to drive more defensively after that accident because you don’t want another bozo smacking you. You drive with more distance between you and other cars. You watch for signs of cars merging into your lane without a blinker. You decide not to talk on your cell phone while driving anymore. You are taking action to not ever be an insurance liability again. Though the police did not cite you for the first accident, you take full responsibility for it being in it. Your stepping up, empowers you to self-determine your future. A victim-free future.

So I say, stack on the blame. I’m strong enough. I’m smart enough. I’m brave enough to see it as an opportunity to correct the course of my life. I will only reach my goals faster when I give myself the power of responsibility for my life.

In the court of my life, I’m jumping up and down, both hands waving in the air, screaming "I’m right here! Guilty as charged." Oh I see, your courtroom over there, and you’re starting to get up from your chair too. Great decision baby!

Friday, April 10, 2009

What Can YOU Give Your Mentor?

Finding a great mentor is like the Quest for the Holy Grail. You know what you seek, but does it want you?

A mentor who can help reveal the secrets to thier success, thus injecting your mind with the same serum of success. The people you aim to have as mentors are usually behind layers of people from a receptionist, to an administrative assistant, to a personal assistant. I’m going to suggest a potent way to get these busy people’s attention.

In our world, you never get something for nothing. Even those timeshare tricks of getting you to stay at their resort for free, take half your day sequestered in their sales pitch room. Your time and attention was the trade-off for an afternoon poolside.

Your first question may be 'I’m early in my career path, what do I have to offer.' The winners in life are the imaginative. I am not saying winners are liars. Winners realized each person has unique gifts. You need to know how to tap into your unique power that can help those older and more established than you.

I am 37. I meet 100's of twenty-somethings yearly. I love talking to them. The reason why is they have insight on their generation's psyche, a generation almost 2 decades younger than me. Their generation will be the consumers and leaders of the future. I value the insight young minds, your young mind, for it gives me a path to better relating to their peers.

Do you see the value in being a teenager, a twenty-something? You know your group. You are soaked in with the Facebook, MySpace, and texting mentality. Any business owner needs insight to the minds of young consumers who will soon be power consumers. That’s what you offer to the older generation of business people.

So seek a mentor with the heart of helping them first. They will be ingratiate to you for your time and insights. The doors are then open for two way communication. Good luck. I’m waitng for you on the other side baby!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

You Look Like a Carburetor: Why Perception Is Within Us

If a stranger came from across a crowded room and said to you “Hey, you look like a carburetor,” what would you do? I can imagine you’d furrow your brow, probably say “What??” while thinking “this guy is loony tunes.”

What if you are a 110-lb woman who’s 5'2" tall, or a 160-lb man who’s 5’-10", and someone called you obese. You’d respond similarly to when the guy called you a carburetor. 'What are they talking about? May be in Ethiopia I'm corpulent at best.'

What if it was your best friend calling you a porker when you wear size 4 pants or have a 32-inch waist. You’d immediately make them to sit down and drink some ice water for surely he/she has a fever making him/her delirious. What they are saying just doesn’t make sense!

You know the falsehood of those two statements because no where inside of you do you believe you are a carburetor nor believe that you’re dangerously overweight for your frame. This is the key. I know you are not these things.

What if someone, someone who knows you well, says you’re lazy or you are not doing your best. These two hypothetical statements are likely to hurt anyone’s feelings, especially from a person they like and admire. You may even be mad. I know I would, because I did.

Last week, I had a very low moment. My Dad is also my business partner. He started our engineering firm, yet now is a minor partner in his retirement. With the tight economy cutting our clients down to a few, he said “Your traveling too much thus clients are thinking you don’t work hard enough.” I blew up like Old Faithful. I started defending myself, yelling at my Dad. And yes, I started crying too because that’s my release mechanism for pent up stress.

In looking back at this horrible day when I’m yelling at my 70-yr old father, I am totally embarrassed. What if my Dad had said, “Your traveling too much, thus our clients think you are a carburetor.” I would have tilted my head to the side and said “what?” There would have been no volatile emotion, no screaming at a 70-yr old man, no crying in the parking lot of our clients’ office.

I blew up because somewhere inside me, the economic reduction our business touched my insecurities about being a good business owner. Somewhere I felt like a failure for having to let staff go. Somewhere inside, I am thinking I am not working hard enough to get more new projects.

I assure you, I don’t know anyone else who wakes up at 4:15am, rolls into work at 6:00am and stays until 7pm. I work 52-hrs by Thursdays. I can prove, without a doubt, that I am not lazy.

I have rationed my time to complete all my work by Thursday so I can leave on Friday to do leadership seminars to colleges. These talks with students I feel are drastically needed in our nation’s economic downturn. The college students are beginning to doubt their abilities to get jobs, thus doubt the wisdom of choosing engineering as a career. In my eyes, if the young lose faith in engineering as a solid career, then America has lost a great hope for the future. Thus, I drag myself out of bed at 4:15am so I can be in front of wide-eyed students looking to me for any sign of hope on a Friday afternoon in Some Collegetown, USA.

Even though I know it is noble to devote myself to the betterment of the future of engineering, I have insecurities about my business profit being way down, thus the statement of my not working hard enough was just a knife into an insecure scab of my psyche. In seeing how I reacted, I now see the weakness in my mind that I must fortify.

I have to affirm to myself I am doing everything I can this week at work. I have a plan to make new connections, and to maintain the clients we have. I have to reinforce to myself that I 150% hard working and determined to succeed in business. It’s all inside of me. The power of perceiving my world is inside of me.

It’s a new line of thinking that will take conscious effort and time to absorb, for your first knee-jerk reaction is likely boiling emotion. Yet try, next time someone says a remark which starts to irk you, try to pause and see what hurts inside of you. You’ll see that you, and only you, give their comment validity. If you can react as though they called you a “carburetor,” then you’ve mastered your insecurities.

This is what that would look like:
Dad: “Solange, when you travel every week, our client’s think you’re a carburetor.”
Solange: “Hmm Dad, I’m not sure what you mean by that. It sounds like they think being gone one day a week makes me a carburetor. Is that it?”
Dad: “Well, I think it’s about their calling when you are not there that makes it look like you’re a carburetor.”
Solange: “OK, they’re used to getting people on the phone immediately. I can see that. How can we fortify to them that I am actually not a carburetor, and that I’m here 4-days a week from 6am to 7pm to assist them with any issues.
Dad: “Well, I guess we can emphasize that you have a cell phone which gets emails at anytime.”
Solange: “Thanks Dad, I’ll start being more communicative with our clients on my travel dates. Hopefully, this will negate any thoughts of me being a carburetor.”

Now replace every instance of “a carburetor” above with “not dedicated.” In your life, I want you to do the reverse. Feel free to use my carburetor. I don't know what a carburetor looks like nor really what it does for a car. All I know is I am not one.

PS-You’re the best looking carburetor I’ve ever seen. Take your best self out there to be the master your insecurities baby!