What Kind of Baggage Are You Carrying in Your Life?

jenn suitcaseWhen I speak on resilience, I often talk of the  importance of unpacking what weighs you down from “Life’s Suitcase.” This summer my 0wn analogy presented itself in my world in a whole new light.

I was traveling to San Diego for a medical conference with two of my colleagues. As soon as they picked me up, my suitcase became the topic of discussion. It’s very old, and well, rather large  making it and me an easy target for the butt of many jokes.

My fellow travelers  packed all of their gear into nice compact bags. When they saw mine they quickly questioned what on Earth I could be carrying in mine. The conference was only three days, and it looked like I was packed for several weeks.

It was so large in fact, in order to get it into the vehicle, we had to rearrange everything in the back. I have no doubt watching me lug it around the airport was quite a sight to see.

But the jokes didn’t stop there. Once we got to the hotel and into the elevator, it happened. Out of nowhere one of the wheels broke into pieces on the floor. Yep…my suitcase wheel shattered. Can’t say that happens very often! All three of us were in tears as we laughed at my “ghetto-fabulous” bag.

Thankfully me and my suitcase made the trip home in one piece…except for my poor wheel. As I unpacked it, I knew it would be for the last time. I bought it over 14 years ago and after this trip I knew it was time to move on.

When it comes to resilience, my analogy of Life’s Suitcase illustrates a very important point. Sometimes we collect unnecessary baggage that does nothing but weigh us down. That baggage can come in the form of:

  • Negativity

  • Toxic People

  • Things We Can’t Change

  • Self-Doubt

  • Fear

We tend to hold on to these things so tightly that they stop us from really enjoying life. Instead of carrying such heavy burdens with us, we should fill our Life Suitcases with things that bring us value and joy.

Negative things will inevitably happen in life, but the key is to push through them, learn the lesson that they carry, and let them go.

My old, beat-up suitcase served as a reminder of this powerful message. It also reminded me of the importance of taking care of your “suitcase.” Fortunately, I can easily replace the one I bought 14 years ago. In life, however, it’s not that easy. We’re it. We’re our own suitcase. Our mind, body, and spirit all carry our most precious cargo. Make sure you are taking the time to take care of them.

What are you carrying in your life suitcase?

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A Reminder on Perserverance from the Great Winston Churchill

Jenn run for redfish 2014Do you ever have those moments when you need a reminder on the power of perseverance? I know I do. Last week I ran a half marathon. My initial goal was to finish the race in under two hours, to beat my previous time. Unfortunately, there were a lot of factors leading up to the race that pushed me farther and farther from that goal.

I didn’t train as hard as I’d planned and so as the race day neared, my new goal became to finish. At about mile 11, we were running against the wind and it felt like the end was never going to come. I felt so much pain in my hips and legs as I continued on.

The more I ran, the more it hurt. I could feel myself physically slowing down to a pace much slower than I mentally wanted to go. I watched the people I’d passed a mile back now pass me. I began to hear the voices creep in my mind telling me I couldn’t go on and it’s ok to walk the rest of the way.

So, the last two miles of the race became a battle between my will to continue and my temptation to quit. It was the first time in an event like this where I really felt I could give up.

As the time passed by, eventually I saw the finish line, and standing right next to it was my family. My husband, beautiful children, and my mom were all there cheering me on. They gave me the last little bit of energy to finish strong. While I finished the race twenty four minutes slower than my original goal; I celebrated the fact that I achieved my second by completing it.

The race I ran that day is not unlike what we all face day to day in our lives. We meet challenges that tempt us to give up, to give in and quit. Challenges that make us question ourselves and doubt our capabilities. It’s in those moments we’re tested the greatest. Winston Churchill gave a famous speech on this very topic to a group students at Harrow High School in October 1941. The words he spoke that day have resonated within our hearts ever since:

 

You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination. But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period – I am addressing myself to the School – surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

~Winston Churchill

Never give in he said. Persevere. There will be bumps on the road, unexpected detours, and obstacles that will leave us questioning ourselves. When you face those moments, remember what Churchill said. We’re all capable of so much more than we often give ourselves credit for. Keep your intentions genuine and good. When you face moments in life where you’re ready to give up, remember why you started in the first place. Remember the will that has taken you as far as you’ve come.

Today’s Challenge: Don’t give up. Preserver.

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It’s Time to Get Back to the Basics of Your Joy

Dylan and his utensilsIf you would have told me two months ago that my two year old son Dylan’s favorite toys would consist of old cooking utensils, I would’ve thought you were crazy. I mean seriously! Have you seen all the different toys on the market these days? It’s ridiculous how much “stuff” is out there to entertain our children.

Of all the toys this little guy has, nothing comes close to his kitchen utensils.  Every morning when he walks with his sister to school, he carries one with him. It’s actually become quite the joke with some of the neighbors; they wonder what cooking utensil Dylan will bring with him next. It’s not uncommon for him to reach for his tongs instead of a stuffed animal when it comes time for him to go to bed.

Our “situation” with spatulas, tongs, and spoons reminds me of the countless times I’ve heard other parents tell stories of how they went out and bought the fanciest toy for their young child, but found he or she enjoyed playing with the box much more than the actual toy.

I think these little people are on to something. Perhaps we adults have a thing or two to learn from them. Name brands, price tags, and status symbols mean nothing to them. Instead, they stick to what really makes them happy.

As adults we tend to become disconnected from what matters. We focus more on the latest and greatest instead of the simple, but most important things that bring us happiness. Since when is dinner in front of the 80 inch flat screen TV more fulfilling than family game night? When did it become ok for our smart phones to consume our attention when we spend time with friends and loved ones?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the devices and technology in my life just as much as anyone else; but those things shouldn’t consume us.

The purity of our joy is what’s at stake. So, today, I challenge you to get back to the basics when it comes to all the distractions in life. Remember what’s most important, and ensure you’re giving those things the proper amount of your time and attention. I challenge you to “unplug” from your busy routines and pause and enjoy the beautiful sunset, or have a deep conversation by the fire. Go old school, and actually leave work stuff at work. Reconnect with your dreams and what leaves you feeling truly inspired and motivated to be great.

Dylan’s fancy toys are collecting dust while he focuses on the simplicity that brings him joy. Today, and everyday, I challenge you to do the same.

What is the biggest distraction in your day?

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Ladies!!! Need some help unplugging from the distractions in your life? Join us January 23-24, 2015 for Find Yourself By the Sea.

4 Questions to Help You Define Your Life Blueprint

staking our claimIn 2011, my husband Greg and I were blessed with the opportunity to build our own home. We found a builder who would customize everything for us; which is exactly what we wanted. We literally sat at our kitchen table and drew out the floor plan to our home.

I never knew so much would go into building a home and all the decisions we would be faced with. What color did we want the ceilings? The crown molding? Did we have a preference on the shape of the toilets? What would we do with the doors? What would the cabinets and their handles look like? It was crazy to say the least.

As stressful as all that decision making was, it was an experience I’m thankful for. We got to have a say in how our entire home was put together. Once the foundation was poured and the building began, it was surreal for us to watch what we’d daydreamed about on paper all of a sudden become a reality.

One of my favorite moments was when this picture was taken. We decided to officially make the house our own; so we each wrote a little message and signed our names on the wooden beams that would soon be our rooms. I was writing Ayla’s name next to her scribbles in her room in the picture.

Sometimes in life we can get so focused on trying to be what everyone else wants us to be, we lose sight of who we really are. We lose touch with the foundation of what makes us each unique and special. To avoid this, we need a blueprint of who we are; a reminder of what makes us  us. There are four questions to ask yourself in order to define your own life blueprint:

1. What Are the Things that Mean the Most to Me?

First and foremost, it’s vital to understand what means the most to you. What values do you believe in that guide you to live your life? Recently, I wrote a post about defining your core values, which is exactly what this means. When all else fails, and life comes at you from all different directions, the one true compass we all have is who we are in our core.

Understanding who you are and what means the most to you is vital; but even more so is ensuring your life is filled with those things you listed as important. If integrity is one of the most important things you define in your life; but you live a life of dishonesty, how can you possibly be happy? If you value time with your family as the most important thing in your world; yet you spend little to no time with them, how can you feel fulfilled?

Define what’s important to you, and live your life protecting and practicing those things that bring you value.

2. How Can I Make the Biggest Impact?

We all have unique talents and characteristics that allow us to make an impact. Maybe it’s through your career, or perhaps it’s something else. Maybe it’s in your relationships, or in your hobbies.  Think of the moments in your life that have moved people. Once you understand where you can make a difference, it’s vital that you hone those skills and continue to make an impact in a positive way.

We all have such an incredible gift with the life we live, by making it count for something bigger than ourselves is one of the most rewarding things we can do.

3. What Brings My Heart Joy?

Understanding what makes you truly happy is so important. We all have sources of joy we should be tapping into on a regular basis. Maybe its getting out in nature, or exercise, or reading. Maybe it’s telling stories or a certain hobby. Whatever it may be; protect that joy as if your life depended on it,  because, essentially it does.

The more joy we have in life, the more motivation we have to keep going. The more drive we have to do something great. The more we embrace what crazy cards life may deal us. Find what brings you joy and ensure you’re allowing yourself opportunities to recharge with it.

4. Who Don’t I Want to Be?

This question brings perspective. Knowing who you are is just as important as knowing who you don’t want to be. It can happen so quickly; bad decisions, bad circumstances, and bad influences can appear. Before we know it,  we don’t even recognize whose staring back at us in the mirror. Don’t let that be you. Know what you want to avoid becoming so that you can remind yourself of that person. When you look in that mirror every morning, ask yourself if who you are is who you intended to be.

Life can get crazy complicated. The decisions we have to make are so much more intense than deciding what color to paint the kitchen in a new home. But, just like building a home, we get to build our lives and what we chose to fill them with. Use your blueprint to ensure yours is filled with what’s most important to you, what you can have the most impact with, and what brings you joy.

What is the most important part of your life blueprint?

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Resisting Change? Learn 3 Powerful Things it Can Bring

ayla is 5Today my little girl turns 5 years old. Like any parent will tell you, I honestly can’t believe how quickly the time has passed. It seems like only yesterday Greg and I were taking our 5lb 13 oz bundle of joy home from the hospital. Over the last week I’ve been reflecting on how blessed we’ve been by all wonderful things she’s brought to my life in the last five years.

It’s so amazing to watch her grow into the special young lady that she is. Thinking about all that she’s become, and all that she’s learned in her young life, made me look to my own life and growth over the last five years.

In doing so, I realized how much has changed in my own life. Here’s just a snapshot:

  • I was diagnosed with and overcame a battle with PTSD
  • I made the decision to leave my life in the US Air Force after almost 11 years of service
  • We built a home
  • I wrote and published my first book: 166 Days My Journey Through the Darkness
  • I became certified as a Life and Wellness Coach
  • We welcomed our son Dylan to the world
  • I made a dream a reality and started Back to Center Wellness Associates

All of these things, among all the other things that have occurred in my life,  have been important catalysts in my world and what it is today. In the last post, we heard from Beverly Lewis about the 5 Stages of Change. To follow up on those wonderful insights, I’d like to focus on the last stage….Acceptance.

Change is the only thing that stays constant in our life. It’s the one thing we know will happen. Every second of every minute of every day there is some degree of change in our lives. This is certainly no secret; yet we still tend to resist it.  If only it were easier to accept and embrace it. When you find yourself resisting the change in your life, remember the 3 powerful things it brings you:

Change Brings Growth

When we’re pushed out of our comfort zones, we’re challenged to do more, be more, live more. Don’t believe me? Look back at the last five years of your life, and all the change that you’ve experienced, both the good and the bad. Look at where you were then and where you are now. Talk about humbling! The old cliché “If I’d known then what I know now” comes to mind doesn’t it?

Here’s the great thing; we may not have known then, what we know now, but from the experiences and changes we’ve endured, we’ve gained incredible knowledge to use now and in the future. How lucky are we to be able to grow through our life experiences.

Change Brings Appreciation

Unfortunately, we tend to underappreciate the things we have until we no longer have them. The little moments of our “right now” become much more significant as time passes on. We look back and appreciate how wonderful times in our life were. I remember the early days when Ayla was a baby, the sleepless nights, and the demands of parenthood. It felt like I was in survival mode for the entire first year of her life. Now, I look back on those days with such appreciation of the precious moments I had with her in my arms.

Just like those moments with my little girl, I can easily reflect on the many different phases of my life with such appreciation. While I miss them, I’m also grateful for what I’ve become because of them. Looking back at those moments helps me to look at my life right now and appreciate much more fully the things I’m experiencing. I know all the happiness as well as the struggles I’m facing bring such value to my life.

Change Brings Opportunity

Sometimes that opportunity is clearly spelled out, and other times it takes longer to surface. No matter how quickly you realize it, eventually you’ll find it. Change can be scary, especially when you step into unfamiliar territory.  In times I feel the fear of the “unknown” creeping in, I find such peace in looking back at my life. All the stepping stones I’ve traveled have led me to where I am.

One of the scariest changes in my life was when I was 20 years old and joined the military. I’ll never forget loading up on the bus heading to Basic Military Training and watching my mother and grandmother wave goodbye as I left them and life I knew behind. Sure it was scary having no idea what to expect, but the opportunity in front of me was monumental. Over the next 10 years and 7 months of my life I absolutely flourished; all thanks to one big, scary change.

Ayla is five years old today. So much has changed in the time I’ve known my beautiful little angel. As we enter into the next five years, I’m comforted in knowing the value change brings to our lives. Embrace the growth, appreciation and opportunity you gain from the changes in your life.

What was the biggest change you’ve faced in your life? How did you grow from it?

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5 Stages of Navigating Change

change_aheadI’m so honored to introduce you to my friend Beverly Lewis! She’s written an amazing post on the 5 Stages of Navigating Change that will leave you with a whole new way to approach the inevitable monster named “Change” that we battle. Enjoy!

I want to have a talk with whoever said, “everything you ever wanted is just outside your comfort zone.” Regardless of the wisdom in that, there are times we all long for a respite from the relentless bombardment of new demands, things to learn and fast curves to negotiate. Constantly stepping outside your comfort zone certainly makes you stronger, but some days you want to crawl into the cocoon of the familiar in order to recharge for the next challenge.

You don’t always have to travel very far to find yourself out of your comfort zone. Moving is an exercise in navigating change by anyone’s standards. Our family made a move of only about 100 geographical miles to the Panama City area 14 years ago and the difficulty adjusting caught me by surprise. Some changes are more easily navigated than others.

Living in a military town, I’ve observed that those on active military duty are probably among those who have to be most agile in navigating change. Deployments and new assignments that demand a move every few years push the development of the valuable ability to thrive in the midst of unfamiliar situations. Many remarkable history-makers are military leaders who have proven themselves during wartime – a stressful theater for refining the ability to be decisive and navigate extreme change. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower, Norman Schwarzkopf… the list is a long and honorable one. Thankfully, the most challenging war most of us wage is with ourselves and our own attitudes and mindsets.

Agility is a leadership quality that is in demand in every sector of our society. Each of us has a story to tell about the changes we’ve dealt with that have shaped who we are. Typically, the hardest circumstances refine us the most. Seasons change, relationships break, business models become outdated, jobs end, responsibilities shift. Learning to keep your balance through it all is a key to happiness.

Much has been written about how to handle change that is personally initiated, like breaking bad habits or battling addiction. Meeting the torpedoes of life; the unexpected challenges over which you have no control is another matter. Who hasn’t found themselves in the midst of a situation you didn’t sign up for? Recognizing the process for navigating change with grace is paramount.

There are five stages in navigating change successfully and coming through victoriously.

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Deliberation
  4. Action
  5. Acceptance

Denial

It’s interesting to note that many sane, smart leaders have refused to accept facts that threaten their entire careers. During the Great Recession, major companies were annihilated by the inability to acknowledge impending disaster. There are numerous lessons in the failure of corporate giants like Chrysler, Lehman Brothers, Blockbuster and Loehmann’s. It’s a subject of debate whether these debacles affecting the livelihood and well-being of thousands of people could have been averted. Undoubtedly, denial played a role in how the circumstances played out.

The denial syndrome is most sharply defined in how people react to disaster. On board the Titanic, hundreds of guests danced and demanded first-class service while the ship went down. More recently the same type of behavior was noted during the Costa Concordia shipwreck off the coast of Italy.

In the moment following a catastrophe, something happens in our brains that affects the way we think. We behave differently, often irrationally. Consider those who had the terrible misfortune to be in the World Trade Center on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, who dithered at their desks, calling relatives, turning off computers and pondering which mementos to rescue from their desks as the inferno raged.

All of these are illustrations of the first response to change – denial. It is one of the greatest obstacles to effective action.

Anger

The second stage of responding to change is one in which emotions reign. Anger can be manifested through accusation, frustration and blame. Though none of these are productive, it’s important to recognize the need to vent emotion. Sometimes the anger directed at oneself is the most dangerous as you can beat yourself up to the point you lose your self-confidence. If you don’t recognize the anger as one of the stages of adapting to change, there’s the risk of a downward spiral through regret to despondency. Not a happy place to live.

Deliberation

The third stage is the place of decision-making. Weighing options, strategizing and making a plan – even if it doesn’t seem like the best plan – spells progress. Stress causes tunnel-vision, so learning to consider all available choices is a valuable skill. The strongest leaders are credited with the ability to make quick decisions under pressure. With repeated opportunities to think on our feet, we learn to respond with confidence. Mistakes will be made, but as Will Rogers said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

Action 

This stage finds you moving. Overwhelmed people stop. Motivation to get going indicates great progress into the fourth stage of navigating change effectively. A word of caution is due here. Hanging onto the old while moving into the new is not uncommon but highly ineffective. Imagine if you try to keep one foot on the ground and one foot on a jet that’s preparing to take off. You have to choose – are you staying or going? If it takes off while you’re undecided, you’re going to suffer some serious pain. At this stage, you may not be happy about what’s happening, but acceptance is not far off once you’re in motion.

Acceptance 

The fifth stage positions you in a place of strength. Acceptance opens your mind to new possibilities as you once again are able to find joy in the journey. You can perceive necessary course adjustments.

All of us undergo a five-stage process when we find ourselves facing change: denial, anger, deliberation, action and acceptance. A key to success and happiness is learning to acknowledge the process, make the best of detours and turn adversity into advantage. The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.- William A. Ward

Beverly Lewis is an Executive Trainer, Speaker and Business Consultant. As a creative and resourceful business growth expert, she is passionate about building strong, happy teams. She specializes in relationship marketing and has provided workshops and seminars on success & leadership for over 25 years. She is the CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) of BeverlySpeaks.com. Beverly lives in Florida with her husband of 36 years and loves to spend time with her family, make music, write and read.

Want more of Beverly? Join us, along with Karen White, at our women’s weekend retreat in January 2015! Find Yourself By the Sea

 

Inspiration from Rudyard Kipling

Sometimes we all need a little inspiration to keep going when times get tough. Today, I wanted to share a famous inspirational poem by Rudyard Kipling. It’s called “If” and it is written on the wall of the player’s entrance at Wimbledon.

Hope in the clouds2

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

~Rudyard Kipling

Source: http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/if-by-rudyard-kipling#ixzz3Jz3iMZHr

If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?

The 2 Keys to Avoiding the Dreaded Entitlement Mentality

It’s never easy to admit you’re wrong. Especially not in a public forum. But that’s exactly what I’m doing today. Recently, in the Clark household, I was not only wrong, but very wrong. As my readers know, I believe our mistakes hold valuable life lessons, and my most recent is no exception. So, let’s get to it.

Laundry QueenI hate doing laundry, I always have.  There…I said it.  There’s something about it that just makes me want to say “Blah!” Lucky for me, I married a man who doesn’t mind doing it.  In fact, for several years he preferred to do it. Otherwise he’d run the risk of a load full of ruined clothes at the hand of his lovely wife. So, I happily turned over the duty to him and he was dubbed our Laundry King.

I thought by allowing my Laundry King to wash all the clothes, everybody would win. I’d get out of doing something I strongly disliked, and Greg wouldn’t have shirts two sizes too small when he pulled them out of the dryer. Everyone’s happy! Right? Wrong. Here’s where I start to go downhill.

I created a monster. The Lazy Monster to be more specific.  I hate folding clothes more than washing them, but what I really dislike is putting them away. So, my clean clothes would often sit on the counter for weeks before I’d put them away.

I completely took advantage of Greg and his willingness to wash all the clothes; and created a much bigger problem than not putting my clothes away. He began to feel resentment. Here he was, tackling five people’s laundry with no help from me, and I couldn’t even take the time to put my clothes away.

Eventually, he confronted the Lazy Monster with how he was feeling, and our resolution was simple….no more Laundry King. I was now responsible for my own clothes again. It’s been one of the best things we could’ve done. No more laziness from me, my clothes are put away as soon as they’re washed, Greg isn’t feeling used, and I’m not a monster anymore.

As I thought about the situation after Greg confronted me, I realized I’d become that person I never wanted to be. I’d developed an entitlement mentality without even realizing it.  How easy it is to do to take advantage of someone else’s kindness. It made me ask the question, how can we avoid becoming that person or even creating that person in the people we know? There are two keys to successfully avoid becoming that person:

Personal Accountability

One of the most valuable tools we have in life is being accountable for our own actions. It’s understanding that what you say, what you do, and how you treat others is all your responsibility.  Not only are the actions you take your responsibility, but so are the outcomes. Understanding this is vital in avoiding becoming that “entitled” person.

The first place we all should look when something’s not going our way is within. Be accountable for what you do, and if it creates an outcome you don’t like, make a change. Before any finger pointing ensues, make sure you take a moment and check yourself.

Appreciate the Value of Doing the Work

There is no way to describe how valuable hard work is. To me, one of the biggest problems within our society is that we’ve forgotten this. We’ve created so many niceties and conveniences, that we’ve managed to forget how fortunate we are. We’ve lost sight of how much we have.

I let myself fall victim by not doing the work at home with my laundry. It was easy to just let Greg do it. Eventually, I learned to expect it. It didn’t even register to me how much work he was doing to make sure I had clean clothes every week. Only when I took back my chore did I realize the value in what he was doing.

I remember when I was growing up, my mom didn’t have enough money to buy me my first car. I knew if I wanted one, I had to find a way to make it happen for myself. So, I worked my tail off and managed to come up with the money for a hoopty of a car; a 1970 something Subaru hatchback with a huge dent in the side that I bought from my uncle. It was the ugliest car I’d ever seen, but it was mine.   If someone would’ve bought me a car, I wouldn’t have appreciated it nearly as much. Don’t be afraid to do the work, in fact, delight in it. By doing so, it keeps the value of what you’re doing in the forefront of your mind.

 

We’re all challenged each and every day to be the best version of ourselves. To contribute in a positive way to the lives of the people around us. Remember, avoiding falling victim to the entitlement mentality is one of the greatest ways we can do this. Never lose sight of the importance of personal accountability and the value of doing the work.

Have you ever fallen victim to the entitlement mentality?

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5 Ways to Benefit From Failure

foggy road“Failure is not an option” are five words I’ve lived by the majority of my life. I could chalk that up to my military service, but if I’m being honest, I’d say it stemmed from my childhood. I faced a lot of challenges as a kid, and I taught myself the only option was to win. While this sounds good on the surface, it’s completely inaccurate. As I’ve stepped into a prominent role as a leader, both as a parent and in my career, I’ve grown to realize that not only is failure an option, but it’s also inevitable.

I continue to struggle with this acceptance; my husband attributes it to a condition called P-R-I-D-E which he so kindly dubbed my middle name early on  in our relationship. Just recently I faced some challenges which I failed. I realized areas I need to do some real work as a leader in order to be as effective as I intend to be. I took this very hard, but I had some amazing people in my life remind me of how awesome failure can be.

I’ve come to realize that failures pave the path to success much more clearly than our achievements. If I look back on my life, I can say with confidence, my biggest successes have come from some of my biggest failures. It was those failures that provided the clarity I needed to move forward. When we get googly-eyed in our awesome, we can often lose sight of ourselves and our purpose.

So how can you accept your failures and use them to your benefit? Here are some helpful tips.

Embrace and own your failure

The first and arguably the most important thing to do with failure is own it. It’s yours; every last bit of it. It’s easy to push the blame to someone else, but when you do, you’re not only doing that person a disservice, but also yourself. Being able to admit you made a mistake is tough.  If you think about it, it’s easy to win…but incredibly hard to lose. By accepting your defeat you’ve accomplished the more difficult task, be proud of that.

Appreciate the humility you just acquired

If you do nothing but win, you don’t appreciate the true value of your accomplishments. If you never had to struggle with something, you don’t see the beauty of making it to the other side. We can’t lose sight of what it took to get to where we are. Failing helps remind us.

Celebrate the fact that you even tried

It’s so easy to take the path of least resistance and do nothing; we often do. To have the courage to put yourself in a vulnerable position in the first place is an achievement in and of itself. When you start beating yourself up, remember this: to have tried and failed is so much more meaningful than to have done nothing.

Find the lesson

Because there’s always one there…always. Once you get past your defeat, look deeper and find it. This is where we grow, often in amazing ways. Look at your disappointment as an opportunity to be better. What did it teach you? How can you move forward a better person because of it?

When we’re able to move past the emotions we experience with failure, and look at what we can learn from it, we’re able to place value in the experience.

Share your story with others

This is so important. Our connections with each other are so powerful. The most valuable information I’ve taken from my mentors have not been their stories of success, but how they’ve epically failed. Because they shared those failures, I had the strength to try. You are someone’s mentor, whether you realize it or not, and what an opportunity you have to positively influence them with your experience.

It’s my nature to strive for excellence with everything I do, and if I’m going to fail, I’m going down fighting. That being said, I’m at peace with  knowing I’m going to continue to fail miserably the rest of my life; we all will.  The key to failure is to fail forward…learn and grow from it and continue to become the best version of you.

How has a failure positively shaped your life?

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5 Habits to Protect Your Joy

“Death is gonna catch me eventually; but I tell you what young lady! It’s gonna have to get me from behind because I’m not stopping!”

These are the words of a vivacious 80 year old patient I took care of the other day. He was one of those people I wish I had the whole day to sit and talk to; he was filled with joy and love of life. If you looked at his medical records, you wouldn’t expect to see the man who sat in front of me that day. He had so many things wrong with him that could easily steal his joy, but he didn’t let them.

His wife with was him that day, and she sat next to him with a loving smile as he shared with me how he spends his days. As I talked to him about the importance of exercise, he reassured me that he doesn’t stop moving very much at all during the day. He has too much to do after all! I left the room feeling inspired and motivated by this man. What an example he set for us all.

As I thought about him,  I realized how easily we can let life steal our joy.  This  man has managed to hold on to his joy despite all his misfortunes. So, how can we do the same? How can we move past the adversity in our lives and be happy?

Happy

5 Habits to Protect Your Joy

Make Time to Focus on What’s Going Right

All too often we get so caught up in what’s challenging us, that we forget to focus on the blessings we have. Why do you suppose it’s easier to complain than express gratitude? Negativity is a powerful and consuming force, and it can easily sneak in and steal our joy. Make the time every day to focus on what’s going right in your life. I tend to do it every morning when I wake up, but I’ve found when I have a bad day, I make sure I fall asleep with what I’m grateful for on my mind. I’d much rather fall asleep thinking about what makes me happy than the opposite.

We all have challenges and adversity. Don’t let that consume who you are. There are plenty of things to be thankful for, take the time to recognize them.

Live to Serve

Our lives are so precious. One of the best things we can do with our time is to serve. I’ve met a lot of people in my life, and the ones that seemed the happiest, were those who live to serve others. The joy you feel from helping someone is one of the most profound emotions. It’s incredibly energizing.

Don’t believe me? Try it. Help  a stranger. Help a friend whose struggling. Go spend an hour at a nursing home and listen to one of the resident’s stories. Clean out your closet and go give those clothes to a homeless shelter. Do something like this, and see how you feel. To serve another is one of the biggest joy generators around.

Fill Your Time with Your Passion

While we should strive to have a career that mirrors our passion, it often doesn’t.  Sometimes, in order to make ends meet, you have to do something you don’t enjoy, and that’s ok. But! That doesn’t mean you can’t find time for your passion. Make the time. What better way to experience joy than to do what you love. To do what makes you who you are.

If you can’t make a living by it, don’t shut your passion out of your life. The more you find ways to do things you’re passionate about, the happier you are.

Keep Moving

The more you move, the more endorphins are released, and the happier you feel. Be active! I’m not saying go run a marathon, but invest in your physical health by taking the time to go for a walk. If you can’t walk, swim. If you can’t swim, bike. If you can’t bike, find something you can do to be active.

Move. Find a way to keep moving. The more you do, the better you’ll feel.

Appreciate the Right Now

We all fall guilty of being too wrapped up in the future or lost in the past to appreciate Right Now. Before we know it, today becomes yesterday, and we missed it! Stop it! Enjoy the moment, it’s the only one like it. Make it count. Be present, appreciate your today. When you can do this, you’ll be amazed at how much joy it brings. The joy comes from not taking what we have, who we spend our time with, the beauty around us for granted.

As the wise man said to me the other day, death is going to catch us all, but let’s make it catch us all from behind. Live your life filled with joy, and protect that joy with all that you have!

What brings you the most joy in your life?

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