Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Give You Permission

When I first realized I wanted to leave news, I remember thinking, "How can I possibly leave a career I spent years building? I sacrificed so much to get here!"

That's exactly what I told my best friend. She was quiet for a few seconds and then she said, "Do you need permission to leave?"

She was absolutely right. I needed someone to tell me it was okay to leave and start down a completely new path. I told her, yes, please, I need permission. And she gave me the greenlight to start fresh.

I've thought about that conversation often, especially over the last year. My life looks completely different than it did a year ago and I'm so glad that it does.

Permission is a funny thing.

It means that we are unsure about pursuing what we really want. We worry that maybe our dreams are a little too big, a little unreasonable, and highly likely to fail. We think perhaps it's best to stick with what's safe, what's secure and what we already know. But our hearts yearn for more. We fantasize about what it would be like to actually climb Everest/start our business/call that guy we've liked for so long and tell him how we really feel. And then we talk ourselves out of it.

How much have you talked yourself out of lately?

I used to do this all the time. My family and friends will tell you I would call them excitedly with this idea or that…that would inevitably fade away, me having done nothing about it because I was too worried about what other people would think or say or because I convinced myself I might fail.

That's when a few of us started what we call automatic permission. Ideally, you wouldn't need permission to do anything you want to do. And that's what I'm working up to these days. If there's something I want to do, I do it. No questions asked. No permission necessary. However, for the really big stuff, I have friends that I call and say, "Listen, I'm thinking of doing x." And they reply, "Awesome, go for it." Permission granted.

I've realized that it's a crime against yourself when you don't pursue what really moves you, shakes you, wakes you up in the middle of the night. When we talk about our heart's desire, what we really mean is what we are here to do. Our purpose. And it's not corner offices or cubicles or 401K's. Those are important, I get it. But one life…ONE LIFE PEOPLE.

Arriving in Antarctica!
My little sister is one of the ones who gets that. She's currently in Antarctica. On paper, her job
sounds…well…not exciting at all. She's a steward at a research facility. She prepares meals. However, in the short time she's been there, she's trekked all over the continent, had face time with penguins in the wild, worked the ice ramps where planes land and taken insanely gorgeous pictures of a landscape that may not last another 30 years. She is exploring and learning and living in the truest sense of the term. At 25, she's already visited all 7 continents and taken part in fascinating adventures, painting her face in Burma, visiting an orangutan refuge in Borneo, working in a bar in Northeastern Australia.

She never asked for permission to do any of this. She simply listened to her heart and went for it.

She inspires me. In turn, I try to listen to my heart as often as possible. And then I do what I feel moved to do. Because I know it may inspire others to begin doing the same.

So if there's anything you secretly long to do, don't wait.



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Forget Inspiration. Try Perspiration.

Disclaimer: this post is not warm and fuzzy. 

If you consume social media, it's hard to get around it: it's a Successories world and we're living in it. 

You remember Successories, right? Back in the 90s? Those ubiquitous posters and office decor with pictures of eagles and mountain climbers that featured an inspirational message along the bottom? They were supposed to motivate us to climb that corporate ladder. Instead, they usually made us feel like setting fire to our cubicles. 

Hate to say it but I'm kinda starting to feel that way lately. Whether it's Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, I'm surrounded by artsy photos of insanely fit athletes that urge me to work harder, lift more, and run faster. Or photos with messages that bark out orders like Zen drill sergeants to:


Oh. My. God. 

Right now, if I had to make my own damned inspirational quote, it would be a few white words on a black background:


Look, I get it. I've posted a few of these inspirational thingies myself - usually Harry Potter quotes or Winnie the Pooh or whatever. And I understand that reading these in the right mood gives you a mental surge that makes you want to run up the stairs like Rocky with that theme in your ears. YES! YOU ARE A CHAMPION! 

I need that from time to time. Everyone does. However, inspiration porn (yes I went there, I called it that) is a temporary fix

You know what really works? DOING THE WORK

Forget what everyone else is doing (this is advice I need to take my own damned self). Focus on the work you have in front of you. And do it. Put some words on a page. Make that phone call you've been meaning to make. Outline your business plan. 

Because you know what feels so much better? Crossing things off your to do list. 

Truly successful people are WORKING. Their example serves as inspiration. 

And I don't mean making millions. 

They're just getting stuff done. Plugging away.

It's incremental. It's slow. It's "put the ass in the chair and stay there" type stuff. 

Once you start making progress? KEEP GOING.

It's not sexy. But it works. 

Start with the perspiration.

The inspiration will come. 

- XO,

Friday, January 10, 2014

Hey You! Yes You! You're a Hero! Now Get to Work!

You start off the New Year excited and motivated, ready to throw yourself into new projects or business, when BAM! Something completely unexpected stops you in your tracks and knocks you over. This was not in the plan you wrote out when planning your goals for 2014. In fact, this is such an obstacle that it's blocking out the light that you felt in your spirit when thinking about all the awesome things you planned to do.
So what now?
Well, in my case I panicked a little and called my mom and best friend. Vented. Cried. I'll admit it, I cried. And then, I dried my eyes and got to work.
This is when it's helpful to have read Joseph Campbell's work.
He taught me about the hero's journey.
We are the heroes of our own lives. We are the protagonist, the lead character, and everything we experience makes up our journey, good and bad.
And here's where it gets interesting and useful: the bad is what counts.
Every hero encounters tests. Challenges. Situations that derail him/her from following their bliss. Situations that seem hopeless.
Think the Odyssey: getting blown all over oblivion when all you really want is to go home to your long suffering wife.
Or Harry Potter: try being 15 and wanting a girlfriend but having to fight acne AND evil.
Or Luke Skywalker: guess what? That guy trying to kill you? It's your dad! "You're not my father!" Oh yes he is, Luke. Oh yes he is.
Being a hero kind of sucks. Each time you vanquish an enemy, another challenge appears.
And that is entirely the point.
Anything worth having won't be easy.
You've got to fight.
You've got to kick in your reserve tank and keep going.
You've got to say, I want this more than I do an easy and comfortable life. I want this more than I do maintaining the status quo.
In my case, I've been in several situations that seemed dire and horrible at the time, but I managed to get through it and now I look back and say, Wow, that wasn't so bad. Or I saw, wow, that really sucked but I'm glad I got through it.
So I see this latest "argh-I hate this-why-why-why did this happen?" situation as just one more challenge in my hero's journey.
It ain't gonna be easy.
It may be painful financially and emotionally.
But I KNOW the end result is worth it.
Following your bliss is always worth the fight.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I'm not listening to you anymore.

I haven't blogged in a while because, well, I tend to get in my own head and talk myself out of it. These little voices say, "Who cares what you have to say? Do you really think you have useful stuff to impart?" Unfortunately I listen to them way too often. And I keep quiet.

It's scary to put yourself out there. Whether it's blogging, starting your own business, or ditching the corporate world to try something new, the mere fact that you are swimming against the tide is startling, both for you and those who know you.

And unless you're Kanye West who enjoys doing contrarian stuff (what I wouldn't do for some of that confidence!), it's tough to expose yourself to potential criticism.

The fact is: you will get criticized. If not by others, then believe me, you'll take of the job yourself. You'll feel small and scared and want to hide in some safe cubicle where no one will notice you, all the while hating yourself because you didn't try.

Which means…obviously…that you HAVE to try. You have to go for it. We weren't put on this earth to live small lives. We know this in our hearts. We are here to fulfill our magical, spectacular potential, whatever that may be.

In my case, I'm trying my hand at new things. Writing, trying to get my stories published, launching a media coaching business. Throw in a few charitable projects in Cambodia and other places and I have a full plate. That will REQUIRE me putting myself out there. That mere sentence just sent a chill through my heart.

And yet…I am surrounded by magnificent individuals who put themselves out there every day. They openly discuss their fears and the challenges they face and you know what happens? People rush to cheer them on and let them know they're on the right track because it's FRIGGIN INSPIRING to see people follow the map in their hearts toward the things that make them feel like they're squeezing life out of every second they're given on this planet.

That's who I want to be. I want to be brave. I want to believe enough in myself and the work I commit to do that it doesn't matter what the critics (including me) think. All that matters is that I am trying.

These are the conversations I have with myself every day. To admit this out loud in a blog seems nuts but…perhaps I'm not the only one. And if you know I'm struggling, then at least you'll know you're not alone.

So let's do this. Let's live.