Forget What Is Impossible and Do It Anyway

“Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.” Mary Kay Ash

How often have you been discouraged from doing something because you knew it wasn’t possible?  “I can’t ask that girl out, she would never go out with me.”  “I can’t apply for that job, they would never hire somebody with my background.”  “I can’t go back to school, I’m not smart enough.”  I’m amazed by how often our certainty about what we can’t do keeps us from what’s really in our heart.  We have to ignore the rules and fly like the bumble bee.  Lets pretend we don’t know what is possible and maybe, just maybe do the impossible.

I know too much for my own good.  The downside of having a Ph.D. in an area of psychology, a passion for self help, and too much time for introspection, I know myself too well.  I think I know my limitations…  You might think you know yours also…  I’m challenging myself to forget what I think is possible.  I want to let go of everything I think is impossible.   I have wings but my “body” is too “big.”  No, I have wings for some reason, I’m going to jump!  Aerodynamically, I shouldn’t be able to “fly” and yet I know the feeling, I’ve had the experience once…  I was meant to fly.  So were you.

I shouldn’t be here.  I’m an addict.  I’m a failure.  I’m not loveable.  I’m not smart.  I’m not enough.  Despite all I think I know about myself, by some miracle, I’ve been able to fly.  I’ve been able to transcend what was possible and by some miracle become someone else.  As I let go of what I think is possible, I’ve been able to meet myself!   Like the bumble bee, I shouldn’t be able to fly, but I don’t believe it so I go about my day flying.

Work Life Balance… Are You Joking?

“Don’t confuse having a career with having a life.” – Hillary Rodham Clinton

I am a coach and I don’t like to differentiate life coaching and business oriented coaching since I don’t see the two as separate.  I would say that most of my corporate clients struggle with problems in their personal life that affects their work, while many of my life-coaching clients struggle with problems at work that affects their personal life.  The coaching industry separates the two kinds of coaching by specifying life coach vs. business or executive coach.  I think this is consistent with the idea of work-life balance.  Work-life balance suggests that one’s personal life should be kept out of the workplace, and the employee is responsible for managing their personal life.  However, technology has given employers tools to keep employees busy all the time!  Work has intruded into our personal lives and taking work home is the unwritten rule to getting ahead in today’s job market.

Do we ever really achieve work-life balance?  In today’s economy aren’t we all asked to do more with less?  Less time, less money, less support, less people and yet we need to achieve more.  Many organizations promote a work-life balance.  These are programs that encourage employees to make the most out of their time away from the office, but how can we?  The economy is tough and there are large numbers of talented employees in the job market.  This means employers have great talent to chose from and spend less time investing in their employees.  Trust me, as a training and development consultant, I’ve experienced when times get tough companies cut development training.  As a coach I advise my clients to personally invest in their own training.  Career minded professionals take work home with them, are responsible for their own professional development, all while trying to maintain a personal life.  Work-life balance, are you kidding me?

I’m tired of the concept work-life balance.  This doesn’t speak to my generation.  We grew up and saw our parents work for companies that turned around and laid them off.  Those companies are doing the same to us!  Our feelings about this show… turnover rates of generation X and Y are high. Statistically today’s younger generation average 4 career changes and 10 employers by the age of 35. We don’t want work-life balance we want our life and we are learning to fit work into that equation.

My concept of life-leadership is a shift in paradigm from the idea of work-life balance.  Work life balance promotes separating personal and professional life.  If you work more than 50 hours a week (typical for many professionals) than there can really be no balance.  Life-leadership focuses on designing the life you want by finding meaning in your role at work.  More important, if you’re in a career transition it’s important to focus on what you want your work to look like then find a ways to focusing your efforts around developing a career where you can step into a leadership role.  In the event you find your life is your work and you love your leadership role in it, than work-life balance is a solution that may help.  However I find this is seldom the issue in most traditional roles at work.

Unfortunately for most, longer workweeks may be a reality of employment.  Work is an extension of our life.  When we hate work it’s hard not to affect our personal lives.  In today’s demanding job It is more important that when we work we are doing what we love.  Focus on the life you want to have and look for opportunities to step into a leadership role.


All Choice is Made From Fear or Love.

“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fear is one hell of a thing… Fear has caused me to overcome the greatest of obstacles, and has caused me to fold under the smallest of tasks.  Fear led me to all I have in this life, most of which is regret.

In love, I walked away from it all.  In love, I dream of a new way of living.  In love, I started this blog.  In love, I want to be seen.  In love, I dare to follow my faith.  In love, I try to live each day of my life moving forward.  Every day I take even the smallest step toward hope; toward the life I was meant to live.

How do we take actions guided by love and not fear?  We don’t decide to wake up one day and live without fear.  We don’t wake up and decide to only live in love and hope.  Today, and for the past few days, I’ve struggled with fear.  I’m afraid to love.  I’m afraid to forgive myself for things I’ve done.  I’m afraid to let go of excuses.  I’m afraid of being alone.  I’m afraid I’ll one day have to abandon my dreams.  I’m afraid my life will fall apart again.  I’m afraid of hope…

What do I do?  Give up?  Push ahead?  A GREAT life is not for everyone.  Life is full of choices and I choose love.  But sometimes I get scared.  Sometimes I get frustrated, tired, angry, disappointed, heart-broken, rejected, humiliated, insulted, crapped on, etc.  That’s life!  I remind myself, with the support of people I love, I am confident that I can get through this… When confidence fails me I remind myself that with God’s grace I can achieve anything my heart desires.  God’s grace makes the fear tolerable.  Push through the fear.  Fear cannot overtake love and hope; Love and hope must be sacrificed to fear… Don’t surrender all that is possible in your life guided by what your heart tells you.  Live your life guided by love.

Happy Mothers Day!

My Mom is the reason why I’m here.  Not because she gave birth to me, but because she was the only one who never gave up on me when my life was at its lowest point.  I struggled with depression for years.  My suffering affected my Mom as much as it did me.  She worried constantly.  She’d call and I wouldn’t answer, she’d knock on the door and I wouldn’t answer.  I’d snap at her and wished she’d leave me alone.  I wanted to feel better but I couldn’t.  I pushed away everyone that ever loved me and was successful in getting people to leave me alone, but my Mom never did.  I would have ended my life in a drug and alcohol fueled low, but despite a complete loss of mental health and control, the thought of what killing myself would do to her kept me hanging on.

My Mom saved me through years of severe depression.  She kept me hanging on, and for a long time was my only inspiration to keep fighting.  I love my Mom for all she’s done me.

How do repay her for all she’s done?  In IOU’s, I’m ashamed to say.  Why is it so hard to express love and appreciation… I think shame has a lot to do with it.  How do you repay someone who saves your life?  I don’t know how.  But I try, one day at a time, to not let my mind run out of control.  Not just for my sake but to honor all that my Mom has done for me.

I believe that the best way we can show love and appreciation for our Mom’s (and Dad’s) is to live a meaningful, GREAT LIFE.  I’m not the most successful person, but I hope my Mom is proud of the job that she did in raising me to be the man that I am today.  I’m very happy and wouldn’t change anything about my life as it is if I could go back.  I love my Mom for being there for me and helping me become who I am today.


We Make A Choice To Be Happy

“The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.”

Is it strange that I feel guilty that I feel happy when everything isn’t going well in my life?  Life has it’s ups and downs, but I try to focus on all that is wonderful about my life.  So like any other normal person I’m disappointed when a relationship doesn’t work out, or financially insecure (really scared) when a job opportunity falls through.  I don’t let it get me down.  I simply choose to be happy.

I’m not superhuman.  I’m not always happy or optimistic.  In fact, I’m pretty pessimistic.  For a time in my life I was really negative.  I think it repelled people.  I soon had nobody to hang out with or talk to.

In working to transform my life, I’ve done my best to be committed to happiness.  I’ll SAY IT AGAIN TO BE CLEAR; I AM COMMITTED TO HAPPINESS!  In my life I’ve been committed to my addiction; I’ve been committed to my recovery; I’ve been committed to beliefs that made me miserable; I’ve been committed to unhealthy relationships.  For the first time in my life I am committed to happiness.  I wake up every day with a commitment to be happy.

I know I’ll experience, like everyone else, the highs and lows of being human.  That is to be expected.  But I know that it is my choice, my commitment, to be happy.  Living the GREAT LIFE helps to support the joy I feel daily.  I hope that you will find the same happiness by adopting the principles outlined under the GREAT LIFE page.


“Our Deepest Fear…”

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson (Used by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inaugural speech)
This is one of my favorite quotes filled with so much insight and wisdom.  There really isn’t anything I can say to expand on this.  I relate… I practice letting my light shine and in time hope it will attract those who are just as scared as I am to be “brilliant, gorgeous, talented…”  For today, I’m not letting my fear dictate who I am.  I have something GREAT to say and hope it will inspire others to do the same.



Do You Really Listen?

“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” – Robert McCloskey

Isn’t it the most wonderful thing in the world to feel heard?  Equally, I find, is the opportunity to be there to just listen to someone who needs to talk.  At a networking event I heard John Gray, author of Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, talk about listening.  He said, addressing the guys in the room, if you want to make your partner happy, when she comes to you with a problem ask her “Do you want me to just listen, or do you want me to help you figure out a solution.”  Words I never forgot and have paid off very well!

I was always that guy that people could come to with problems.  Something about me that I make people feel very comfortable and safe to talk to.  I’m blessed, I believe with the gift of listening.  Since I’ve realized it’s importance, I’ve tried, and struggled to improve my skills, often fighting the urge to speak when I know my clients and often friends just need to be heard.  Do you really listen when someone comes to you and needs to talk?  The following are the three levels of listening.  Which do you do most?

3 Levels of Listening

  • Level 1: You’re not really listening.  Have you ever been out on a date and you’re listening to a story and just tune out?  You maintain eye contact, and nod and gesture like you’re listening but you don’t know what there talking about!  You might be preoccupied with a question you want to ask.  You might be wondering what you’re missing by being out.  Whatever you’re thinking about your are not listening.  Even if you are thinking of a response!  Level 1 listening is basically pretending like you’re listening.  Remember 9th grade Economics?  No? Exactly my point.
  • Level 2: You’re Listening to most of what is being said but tune out to key details.
  • Level 3:You hear everything that is being said verbally and nonverbally.  Level 3 listening is when you are open to verbal and non verbal communication.  You are sensitive to what is being said and what is not being said.  You process information and allow for moments of silence as you think of a response.

Remember that being a GREAT listener is a skill that can be developed.  It has the power to make people believe you’re much wiser and knowledgeable than you really are (I’ll speak for myself).  I think it’s key to remember how wonderful it is to have had the experience of being heard.  Think about how you listen and practice elevating your attention.  How wonderful it will be when people turn to you because they trust you will offer a safe place to be heard.




“Commitment is not a word, it is an act.” Jean Paul Sartre

I’ve been thinking a lot about what is the first step to living a GREAT life.  Is there something you really want, and you know how to get it but just don’t take action?  I’ve said it before, the self help guru will tell me WHY I DO WHAT I DO, but nobody really explained WHY I DON’T DO WHAT I REALLY WANT TO DO.  This question drives my studies, my theoretical framework, and my daily practice.  While I have a very long and complex model that explains this in detail, the first step I want to consider is the idea of commitment.

First, what is commitment?  Not just a definition, but what does commitment look like.  Commitment is not in thoughts or beliefs but a practice of a pattern of behaviors that direct my life.  What I am committed to, physically manifests itself into my life.  If I get stuck or feel stuck in an area, I ask myself am I committed to my goal or do I want something without having to take action toward it.  For example, I really want to be married with kids.  I think I’m committed to this desire. But my actions don’t support my claim.  I’d like a wife and kids, but if it happens, cool.  This is hardly commitment!

So what am I committed to?

I’m working toward building a set of disciplined behaviors that support my commitment to living a GREAT life one day at a time.  I’m committed to Gratitude, Recognizing and rejecting negativity, Excitement, Action, and Thanks.  I’m committed to living a life directed by love and not fear.  I’m committed to being happy.  I’m committed to telling a new story about myself that I never thougth was possible.   I’m committed to putting myself out into the world and being seen.  But does my behavior support my commitment?

Sadly, my behavior supports commitment to fear, isolation, loneliness, and commitment to an idea that I’m not enough.  But the GREAT life is not perfect.  The GREAT life is not a destination or a goal to achieve.  The GREAT life is a practice.  We practice the behaviors that make clear to all around us what we are committed to.  I’m not perfect in my commitment to the GREAT life.  I read a quote online (author, was unidentified) that read:

“Commitment is staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has past.”

When I started this blog I was excited and committed to living differently.  The work and action that it takes to prove my commitment is difficult, and on more than one occasion tried to convince me that this was not for me.  For today, I’m committed to the smallest actions that move me forward and keep me in gratitude for the GREAT life I am blessed to have.   Moving forward I find my commitment growing and expanding.  While each day is never perfect, it is GREAT, and I am so happy for all I have and all I’m committed to got.  I’m building commitment and with each mindful passing day, I’m building a practice that supports my commitment to my life and those I’m blessed to help.

Live the GREAT Life Like a Poker Pro!

“You got to know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em, know when to walk away and know when to run…” – Kenny Rodgers

As a former consultant in the Casino Gaming Industry I learned a lot from the many gamblers, card players, hustlers, scam artists and cheaters that I worked around.  One of the best lessons I learned was from watching and playing poker.

You will hear poker players say that any decent poker player can make money with a great hand by raising and winning the pot.  A good poker player can make money with a bad hand by winning with a bluff… A great poker player can take a great hand and throw it away when the risk is not worth the reward (not an easy lesson to learn)…

Life is all about learning to play the hand your were dealt…  Life can be a gamble, but I believe a GREAT life is learning to take calculated risks.  Winning in poker and in life is not always based on the hand you were dealt but how well you play your hand.

In poker calculating risk and reward is very easy.  In life, risk and reward are difficult to calculate.  What’s the risk of chasing a dream?  When do you let go of a dream like folding a bad hand?  What does poker tell us about life?  In my experience living life like the haphazard gambler may lead to poverty and often does, and a life lived too cautiously may result in great success but often doesn’t.

What I’ve come to know is that life, like in poker, is all about getting in the game.  Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of waiting till the best hand comes along… We take calculated risks and play the hand we were dealt to the best of our ability.  The point is, we can’t win in poker or in life by sitting and watching the game… You can’t win what we are not willing to risk.

One of the worst possible hand in poker is “10 and 2 with non matching suits” (also known as Ten-deuce off-suit).   This hand was named after poker legend Doyle Brunson (by the way, calling Doyle a poker legend is an understatement).  Why is one of the worst hands in poker is named after Doyle Brunson?  Doyle won the world series of poker with it!

Play the hand you were dealt.  Get into life and take calculated risks but don’t be too afraid to risk and never regret being too cautious but experiment!  My formula for calculating risk in life is simple… To win love, honor, value, friendship and happiness I’ve learned to risk my ego and sometimes my heart, even when I’ve come up short, I’ve never lost.  To those of you waiting to get in the game I wish you GREAT luck, the best of luck!

Value vs. Appreciation and Respect

“Appreciate the things and people in your life while remaining independent of them. Give thanks for them, but realize that they do not complete you. Only you can complete you.” – Serenity Rey

When I worked in the casino industry, I came across very few individuals who had the discipline to earn a living as a professional.  What set the professional apart from the (unlucky) gambler was the professional their respect of the chips they played and the game.  The professional played a five dollar bet the way they played a $500 or $5,ooo chip.  The chips had no value, rather the professional had a respect and appreciation for the chip and the best strategy to win a game.  In recent months I’ve tried to take away my perception of value to all I see and focus on respect and appreciation.

I started my practice by trying to think less about the value I give to my money.  I try to treat a dollar with the same respect and appreciation I do 100 dollars.  When I see a penny in the parking lot I pick it up.  In fact I recently was walking and found change scattered on the sidewalk.  I stopped to pick it up.  It was 45 cents, 2 dimes, 4 nickles, and five pennies.  I felt a little embarrassed but no matter, I’ve learned to appreciate and respect money, and this lesson spilled over into all areas of my life.

This shift if thinking to respecting and appreciating money led to a new level of respect for earning.  I work as hard for a client that pays me $200 per hour as I would for a client who payed me $50 dollars, or for someone I offer my time to pro bono.  I appreciate opportunities to be of service.  Don’t get me wrong, I value my time but I don’t set the price for my service, the market does.  I charge standard rates and adjust according to supply and demand.  One project isn’t better than another. One customer is no more important than another.  I appreciate the work and I love to be of service.  Since I’ve really learned to value my time I try to work on projects that make me feel appreciated and respected.  If a work project pays well but doesn’t feel good, I don’t take it.  This was the start of understanding how and when to assign value and appreciation.

The most important lesson I’ve learned is to take away the value I assign to people.  I use to assign rank and order to people and assign a level of importance based on their value to me.  This person can help me in some area of my life while the other is a burden.  This person is famous so they are better than that person. This person is rich so they are better… The thought that I would rank people makes me feel a little ashamed of myself.  Luckily, I’ve been able to acknowledge my bias and try to appreciate people for who thy are.  I’ve just now come to understand how important it is to have appreciation and respect for each and every individual.  To remove value from people, places and things allows me to have an appreciation and respect that makes my relationship to whatever I see so much better.

I don’t know if this blog is just one long incoherent ramble… I wanted to share a small shift in my perspective that has have huge affects of my emotional health and overall feeling of joy.  I use to assign value to things that really have no value and learn to appreciate them for what they are.  By focusing less on assigning value to people, places and things, I’ve learned to value what really matters my time.  Which only encourages my feelings of appreciation, respect and gratitude for all I am surrounded by.  My time is valuable and there are people I hope to help and inspire who I hope to spend more of my time with.  A better understanding of value and appreciation has allowed me to see a deeper level of a GREAT LIFE all around me.  I hope you will try this exercise and that you are able to see the beauty and appreciate all you see.