Have you ever tried to imagine what it must be like to be someone else? Not in the abstract, but while you are standing there with them, looking at each other–imagining what it must be like to be looking at yourself through their eyes and feeling what they feel about it? “Freaky,” you say?
No matter who you are, each and every one of us lives in a world that is known only to oneself, because our world is a representation of what our brain interprets it to be–nothing more; nothing less. Our individual reality is the only reality that we can know.
We each have our own hopes, dreams, and fears. And, according to psychologist Abraham Maslow, we ultimately want to make the most of ourselves–to be all we can be. He called it being self-actualized.
Such is the subject of many popular songs over the decades.
Lady Gaga sings, “There’s nothin’ wrong with lovin’ who you are, cause He (God) made you perfect, babe.” (Born This Way)
Jessica Andrews reminds us that no matter what happens to her, “I know exactly who I am.” (Who I Am; written by Brett James and Troy Vergas).
Demi Lovato performs This is me, co-written with Joe Jonas, “Now I’ve found who I am. There’s no way to hold it in. No more hiding who I wanna be. This is me.”
Sammy Davis Jr. (1968) exclaimed, “I gotta be me . . . I want to live, not merely survive, and I won’t give up this dream of life that keeps me alive.” (lyrics by Walter Marks).
Here’s my point:
the INPowered find a way to strive for a better self, even if it means overcoming difficult life situations and low self-esteem.
Notice I said a better self, not a perfect self.
Being self-actualized is loving and accepting yourself without feeling like you need everyone else’s permission for what you believe and how you live (as long as you are not hurting or abusing others for your own ends).
If there is something that you don’t particularly like about yourself, change what is possible, and make the best of what you have to work with. We have limited control over our physical looks, but we have total control over our attitude and intentions.
Take the self-actualized INPowerment pledge. Tell yourself every morning, “I will live INPowered today by taking positive action to make life better for myself and others.”
You’ll be amazed how your self-esteem and confidence grow as you become
The INPowered know that success is not a solo act. It takes help from many others to accomplish our goals.
We all can point to individuals who came along in our lives at times when we needed help getting past an obstacle. Sometimes we just needed a nudge in the right direction to get going on a project. In any event, we couldn’t have done it without them.
But sometimes, we realize the relationships were currently have are toxic, and we need to find a better environment.
Several years ago I met a young man who was reinventing his life by changing his relationships, and consequently, he was that individual I needed to nudge me along a direction on a project I couldn’t quite get started. We met at a professional association luncheon when we sat down across the table from each other.
He introduced himself as one who was looking to get started in the training business. He explained that one day he realized that if he did not change his life, he would die young. He had been running with a crowd that had taken to very nefarious activities, including drug trafficking, and he knew he needed to get away from that life before it was too late.
He unfriended the entire lot and began, what he called, reprogramming himself with positive thinking messages. He found new friends who could be a positive influence. He changed his habits to live a healthy lifestyle. He set out on a course to get a college degree.
As I listened to his story, I realized he was living the personal development seminar I was trying to write. I asked him to collaborate with me, and together, we developed a seminar we were able to present together several times.
Our life paths diverged, and we grew from the experience. He completed a Master’s Degree. Today, he is a counselor to many young people who are trying to escape the kind of life he was able to escape as a young man. I have continued to develop my understanding of INPowered living as part of my consulting and writing.
Recently, we have discussed a new collaboration that builds on our on-going life experiences. Stay tuned.
We both know, that relationships make us who we are. No success story is a solo act.
When we accept the responsibility to build strong, positive relationships, we become
The force will work on your behalf whether you believe in it, or not. I have seen it happen. By force, I mean that universal energy in which we live and move and have our very existence, call it what you will.
You might know someone who has a story like this one.
A friend, a new attorney, was looking to locate in a community where she could be part of her ideal law firm with the hopes of becoming a partner. She talked about it often with me, and in great detail.
I encouraged her to meditate on it, even pray. I explained my belief in how positive affirmations helped to create the desired reality. She scoffed at my silly notion, and said she would keep to her more logical plan of scouring the state bar employment information and following up on leads from attorney contacts.
But nothing materialized.
Then, one day, she happened through a community that captured her interest. On a whim she sent packets of work samples to all the law firms in that community. A tactic she had refused to take in the past. Three firms replied, and although they were not looking to add a new attorney fresh out of law school, they offered her an interview.
One offered her a second interview with all the partners. I asked her how she felt about the interview. She confessed the firm focused mostly on corporate law and she wanted to practice family law.
She called after the interview beaming, “They want to branch into family law, and they specifically want a female associate because no firm in town has a female associate. Even the décor in the offices is just as I imagined it would be down to the wallpaper. Can you believe it?”
I replied, “I’m not surprised at all. You’ve talked about it continually for a year. It proves what I’ve been saying about positive affirmations. You’ve been doing it whether you realize it or not.”
“That’s silly. Why would you say that?” she challenged.
I explained, “Because you deviated from every routine you had been following. You went with your feeling about the community. In fact, you had not even planned to go through that town. It was a lark. Or was it?”
That’s the way the force works–an immaterial energy that has a tangible effect. I believe she had been projecting her desired state, whether she realized it or not and whether she believed in it or not. Then something wonderful and unexpected happens. The INPowered acknowledge the force is at work. The overly analytical attribute it to good luck or a quirk of fate.
Mike Dooley, author of Leveraging the Universe, says that thoughts become things. What if we put that power to intentional use? What if we make ourselves available to this universal force to work in our lives? What if we learn to live in harmony with it instead of dismissing it or fighting it?
The scientist in me wants to know how the force works, but science can’t explain it either. Some things we accept from repeated experience. In my life, the influence of the force is one such thing. My walk of life is a walk of faith.
My spirit just tells me to go with it. Just do it. Live believing. Live INPowered with the belief that I have more going for me than my raw talent and intelligence (thankfully).
Trust the force,
and leverage your creative energy to be
Diversity is a master teacher. My fear of the distasteful almost kept me from the pleasure of enjoying what has become one of my favorite meals–the Reuben sandwich.
When I was a child, my mother would open a can of sauerkraut, and I would gag at the smell of it and at the thought of putting the nasty stuff in my mouth. Yuck!
Then one day, while I was away at college, I was having lunch with a friend who ordered a Reuben sandwich. She was going on about how good it was and offered me a bite. I took it. Yummy! I asked her what was on it, and the first ingredient she mentioned was sauerkraut.
What? How could that disgusting sauerkraut my mother ate taste so good?
I learned an important lesson about diversity: just because you didn’t think you would like something once, doesn’t mean you won’t like it ever.
The experience emboldened me to try other things for the first time.
I remember attending a civic club meeting as a new member. I went through the buffet line and took my meal to a table where four men were seated. They greeted me, but did not offer to introduce themselves.
They told me they had been sitting together at that table every Tuesday for fifteen years–just them. I wondered if they were telling me I was intruding. I simply said I joined the club to make new acquaintances and find new friends. Within a few weeks, I think I knew more people in the club than they did.
Here’s the point: you can’t learn something new unless you try it for the first time.
I’ve found that trying new things is one of the most INPowering habits I’ve developed.
When I lived in Oklahoma City, I couldn’t understand people who complained they were bored with living there. I explained I had lived there for years and was never bored. I listed all the things I did, mostly for free, that were going on in and around the metro. They admitted they didn’t think they would like the activities I mentioned; so, they never explored them to see. They were trapped in their own sameness. Their boredom wasn’t for lack of things to do.
Isn’t that tragic? We get so accustomed to keeping things the way they are, and we are so afraid that we might not like something different, that we don’t venture into this wonderfully diverse world we inhabit?
Think about all the wonderful, surprising, INLivening experiences waiting for you when you practice diversity.
Try it; you might like it.
And you will be more
Excellence is not a competition . . . or a category . . . or an award. Excellence is the journey you set out on every morning to end the day a little better at something you care about. Therefore, excellence is within everyone’s reach.
Excellence is not a function of intelligence or physical power. It is not limited to any social or economic group. It is not exclusive to any race, ethnic group, gender, religion, creed, nationality, or culture, or even age. Excellence is available to anyone.
Excellence is your duty to yourself to be better tomorrow than you were today in whatever way you choose. Excellence is you multiplying your own energy and ability to take yourself just a little farther each day, to set a new personal standard; then best it.
Excellence is a journey, not the destination. Even when elite athletes become a world champion, they start the next day trying to improve on what they just accomplished. They believe they owe it to themselves to beat their own record.
Athletes are always reaching for a personal best performance. Their standard in any competition is whether they did the best they were able, and hopefully, they achieved a personal best. That’s excellence.
Regardless of one’s particular walk of life, those who excel in their field will tell you there is one ingredient common to all, and it isn’t natural talent. That ingredient is fortitude–staying with the effort to see it through regardless of adversity. Some call it “grit.”
I recommend a couple of books on this. Seth Godin’s The Dip addresses the issue of quitting too soon. Godin calls it hitting the dip, “the long slog between starting and mastery.” He admonishes us to persevere through the difficulties and don’t’ quit too soon, as the average do.
Sarah Lewis stated in The Rise: Creativity, the gift of failure and the search for mastery, “The pursuit of mastery is an ever onward almost.” Excellence does not regard failure as such, but as a redirecting to a more promising path. Watch Sarah’s inspiring TED talk, “Embrace the near win.”
So, your duty to self is to be the best you that you can be. Excellence is committing yourself to personal improvement and seeing it through, come what may. That means treating yourself well, like a champion. Eat healthful food. Develop wholesome habits. Associate with people who are a positive influence. Fill your life experience with the pure, the positive, and the powerful.
Zig Ziglar said, “Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.”
What I hear is Ziglar talking about a spirit of excellence that it takes to be successful.
You can choose to be excellent. Multiply your personal energy in the direction of something you care deeply about.
When you pursue personal excellence, you will ultimately be