Breaking the Barriers of Your Mind

July 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

The only barriers that exist are those that exist in our minds.

People often talk about challenges and/or problems as if they were some external thing that one has no control over. Like they were some giant mountain or monster “out there” that they have to climb over or defeat.

The only challenges or problems that we truly face are the one’s that we create in our own minds. We are the author of every problem that we have ever encountered. Just think about it for a moment; compare a time when you believed you could accomplish something verses a time when you believed you couldn’t. What was the difference in those two situations? The only difference was how you thought about the situation. The only barrier that existed in the scenario that you thought you couldn’t accomplish were your thoughts and your beliefs.

The key lies in realizing that you are not your thoughts, not your beliefs, not the voice in your head. You are the one who sits behind those thoughts. You are the awareness, the witness, the consciousness.

To break the barriers of your mind, you must increase your self awareness. Become centered in the one who witnesses.

You can then choose your thoughts consciously and not blindly identify with them.

Oh My God, You Mean I Have To Jump?

May 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Mid-Career Changers Face Similar Perils As Trapeze Artist

“Whether you are changing careers or simply changing jobs, both situations can be likened to being a flying trapeze artist. How so? You may ask. They involve risk, reflection, trust, and most certainly thrill.”

The Platform…so, however you’ve climbed the ladder thus far, you’ve reached the platform. It’s anchored, steady, and most likely predictable…even though it may be 60 feet in the air.  The platform is where you are right now, in your career and in your life.  There is a certain degree of security and comfort, regardless of whether it’s really where you want to be.  The idea of jumping off the platform, especially in today’s economy, scares you to death. You look down and can barely see the safety net, if at all.  You see the abyss; you fear being destroyed by whatever lies below. You say to yourself; “Tell me again why I want to jump off this platform?” But, for whatever reason there’s a tug.  There’s this gnawing sense of discontentment, like there’s something more.  If you just took a swing out there a ways, you might find something better.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”~ Anais Nin

The Fly Bar…so, you grab hold of the fly bar. Double check your grip. Here you go! You know you’re just going out there to take a look anyway, and then you can swing back to the security of the platform.  So you jump… trepidation at first, then exhilaration. Your mind wanders to a place of possibility. You mention to a friend that you’ve been thinking about making a career change.  You go to work and see the mirror of unrest in your colleagues.  The urge to find something more grows stronger.  Then there’s that grip again, it tightens and you hang on for dear life.  Holding on to the fly bar is like hanging on to the tether of your life. It means hanging on to all of the things that have gotten you this far, but also all of the things that have kept you from getting what you want. So you swing back toward the platform, but no, you’re not going back. You swing out again, this time with more confidence, and more conviction. You actually begin to enjoy the freedom of swinging, of looking at new possibility. Off in the distance you see another fly bar coming your way. It’s not really clear, but you sense that it holds great promise. Your grip tightens again.  As it approaches you realize that to grasp the new fly bar you must release your grip on the present. You must actually be willing to fly, to hurtle across the space of the unknown, to face the beliefs and stories that are holding you back, and to have the courage to move beyond them.

“The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to reflect their inner beliefs.”~ James Allen

Letting Go…is the hardest and scariest part of the process.  The possibility that the new fly bar holds becomes clearer as it swings toward you again. Your mind is reeling, “this bar I’m holding now, the platform I left is really not that bad”, “I should hang on to what I have”, “most people would be happy to have the job I have right now”, “if I let go, there’s no turning back”.  The struggle to release your hold on the known for the unknown is immense.  The beliefs you hold as truths have been crafted over time and in many ways have become the pillars of your life, but also the bars of your cell. The new fly bar is in sight again…the opportunity is now… you let go. You sore across the dark void, eternity encapsulated in a few seconds, the past is gone and the future is not yet here.  You are in the transition zone. You’re anxious to grab hold of something new. You see the bars and platforms as real, but are unsure about the space in between. The reality is, transition is the richest place.  Along with the fear and feelings of being out of control, it is the place of being most alive, where passion is re-ignited, where growth occurs, where space is created by letting go of the things that have been holding you back. In transforming your need to immediately grab that new bar, any bar, you’re able to dwell in the place where real change happens.

Trusting is knowing… “We cannot discover new oceans unless we have the courage to lose site of the shore.”~ Anonymous

The New Fly Bar…is in reach now and you grab hold. There is a sense of relief as you tighten your grip once again.  Your enthusiasm, passion, and energy are renewed.  The thrill of traversing the void and swinging toward the new platform surges through your body and mind. You think back for a second to the old platform and the bar you let go of. The beliefs you’ve held onto so tightly while still a memory, no longer hold you in their grip.  This is a time of building, of possibility, of reaching new potential. Abraham Maslow refers to this upward swing as becoming self-actualized, a place of moving toward fully utilizing your talents, capacities, and potentialities. As you fly toward your new platform, use this time to imagine the impossible, to rekindle the dreams you had as a child. Give yourself permission to say “yes, why not” rather than “no, I can’t do that”. Take full measure of your swing for it’s the gift of becoming new once again.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”~ Helen Keller

The New Platform…so you’ve landed, you’ve chosen a new platform. Congratulations!

The flight of your career and for that matter your life is in many ways much like that of the flying trapeze artist.  Taking the risk to realize your dreams can be scary. Reflecting and letting go of limiting beliefs can opens you to the richness of what is to come. By trusting in possibility and riding the thrill of realization you move to new heights, to new platforms.  The question now becomes, “when will you fly again”?

The Art of Business Finance – Connect with Your Constituency

April 8, 2012 § 2 Comments

Annual Report

The financial artist is one who understands and connects with the people behind the numbers.   

It has been said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” But, in my experience, it’s the metrics by which one measures business performance that makes the difference between success and failure. While historical comparisons are important, business metrics and business intelligence is an ever changing arena. Conditions, competition, trends, resources, plans, innovation, and opportunity all play a role in the changing landscape of today’s business. To remain successful, above all, one must remain aware and relevant.

One of the most profound outcomes of my business background, from manager to entrepreneur, is that I’ve had the opportunity to see business finance from a number of perspectives. I liken it to looking through various camera lenses. From wide angle to zoom, the focal point remains the same but the perspective and composition vary depending on the desire of the photographer.

The first lens is through the eyes of a manager. As a manager I want to have input into the goals that are being set for me and my team. I want to know what the benchmarks are and what metrics will be used to measure my performance. I want to have accurate and timely results data.  And lastly, I want to have the power to influence the process along the way.

The second lens is through the eyes of the CEO. As a CEO I want a wide angle lens whereby I can see all facets of the business from operations to marketing. I want the past, present, and future illustrated in a way so as to give me the tools to make smart decisions. I want sound data that will help me assess the present, set a vision for the future, and develop innovative strategies to get there.

The third lens is through the eyes of the owner/investor. As an owner/investor I have “skin in the game”. I want financial information that demonstrates the market opportunity of the services or products my investment is providing. I want information that highlights company performance relative to risk, and I want information that demonstrates management’s capabilities and illustrates their performance. I want to know my risk and the potential rewards so I can compare it to other opportunities I might choose.

The forth lens is through the eyes of an institutional partner; banks, insurance companies, auditors, and other stakeholders. Depending on who I am, I have a particular stake in the business.  As a bank I could be protecting my investment, as a government institution I might be ensuring compliance, as an insurance company, I may be managing my risk. The data I require depends on who I am and what I need to meet my particular objectives.

The fifth and most important lens is through the eyes of the customer, the client. As a customer, I want value. I want clear honest information that helps me make smart choices.   I want information that gives me assurances about the future. I want products and services that meet my needs and I want financial information that confirms I’ve chosen well.

Finance, while it is grounded in the science of math, statistics, and fundamental economic principles, is as much an art as it is a science. The financial artist is one who understands and connects with the people behind the numbers.

Connect With Others Energetically

February 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Make the Connection

Part of making a true connection comes from moving beyond the illusion of our rational mind. For the most part, we see ourselves as being physically separate from the world around us. We see form, shape, color, composition, and functionality all of which serves to reinforce the illusion of separateness. But underneath that illusion, there is a whole other world, a world of connection. Our perception of space and mass is in reality part of the continuum of energy that under pins everything.

Now, this is pretty heady stuff, and for the most part, should only be taken in small doses. Having the awareness and some basic understanding of what’s behind the illusion is what’s important. I’ll show you why…

Here is a simple yet amazing exercise I want you to try:

The next time you have the opportunity to engage with another human being physically (although it does work at a distance), focus on meeting them energetically rather than cognitively or physically at first. Prior to engaging with them, invite your energetic body to be the thing that extends the hand shake or wrap your arms around them energetically prior to physically embracing them.  Look into their eyes and invite them energetically to meet you half way.  Notice the difference. Notice how you feel.  Notice how they respond to you.

Most of the time when we engage with someone it is with our thinking brain filtered by the illusion of separateness. The encounter often leaves us feeling empty and disconnected.

Practice this simple but profoundly different way of being in the world.

It will change your life.

Steve

Gratitude – A Pathway to Connection

February 20, 2012 § 2 Comments

Gratitude is a Conduit of Connection

I was noticing myself the other day being frustrated by something that I thought my wife should have completed but didn’t. As I observed my thoughts of blame and criticism, I could sense myself becoming separate and distant from her. It was not only an emotional separation; it also felt energetic in nature. Aware of what was taking place, I made a conscious choice to shift my thoughts and focus on what I was thankful for that she did accomplish. My frustration and blame turned to appreciation and gratitude. Immediately, I felt my energy shift and I noticed a renewed sense of connection.

This personal experience was not only interesting to observe, but was also a good reminder that gratitude is a simple, yet powerful way to build and enhance connection. Instead of looking at things as if they were unfulfilled expectations, turn it around and focus on being grateful. You will feel your connection factor grow in leaps and bounds.

Here are some simple tips on how to develop an Attitude of Gratitude and build Connection:

  • Maintain your awareness of the miracle of life itself. Keeping in mind the mere fact that we are living, breathing, conscious beings walking this earth. That in and of itself something to be grateful for every moment.
  • Take time to notice the world around you. Similar to the previous suggestion, being curious and taking the time to look and appreciate the world around you will build and ever increasing attitude of gratitude.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Write down at least 3 things everyday that you are grateful for.
  • The last thing before dozing off to sleep, focus on what you’re grateful for.
  • Put circumstances into perspective. Rather than getting caught up in the negative emotions of a circumstance, step back and put things into perspective.
  • Focus on abundance rather than scarcity.  Most people think about what they don’t have in their lives rather than all that they do have. Focus on everything that you have in your life to be thankful for.
  • Stay out of the comparison game. Every person, circumstance, or thing is a unique creation. Appreciate it for what it is, not how it compares to something else.
  • Adopt the perspective that life is a journey not a destination. Enjoy the journey. The problem with chasing the rabbit is that once you catch it another one appears.
  • Look at what you’re using for a measuring stick. What is it that you are judging life by or on? What beliefs, expectations, social norms, and criteria are you scoring the acceptance of things against? Realize it is all a mental construct and can be different if you choose it to be different.
  • Think about today, this moment, as being the last of your life as you know it. What do you most appreciate?

As you begin to develop an attitude of gratitude, you will sense a stronger connection to yourself, to others, and to the world around you. Gratitude is a conduit of connection.

Finding Connection

February 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

Finding ConnectionFinding Connection Does Not Have to be Complicated

It’s ironic but in today’s world of connectivity people are feeling increasingly alone. In her groundbreaking book, Alone TogetherWhy We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, Author Sherry Turkle talks about how people are drawn into the allure and illusion of connection via technology at the expense of making a real connection with real people.

Connection is simple. It is part of our DNA so to speak. Every person on earth feels the tug of connection regardless of how hard they try to ignore it or avoid it. Here are some simple ways to regain connection in your life:

  • Make time and space to leave technology behind. When you go for a walk, when playing with your kids, when out on a bike ride with friends, leave your “connectivity” devices at home. Be present wherever you are.
  • Sit in a quite room for 10 minutes, even 30 minutes and do nothing. Just sit. Listen to the silence.
  • Become the observer in your own life. Become aware of all of the thoughts that are racing through your head. Try noticing the space in between those thoughts. The more you look for it, the more it will appear.
  • Make a commitment to redirect 50% of your “social networking time” to actual in person socializing. Rather than spending 2 hours on Facebook, spend 1 hour on Facebook and 1 hour with a friend, or a new Facebook acquaintance.
  • Adopt a pet.  Pet’s are a great conduit for being in the moment and connecting. Animals, especially domesticated animals like dogs and cats are all about connection.
  • Take a minute to engage people at work before launching into reporting or problem solving. A friend of mine recently gave a speech at Toastmasters titled Building Bridges, where he talked about how merely saying Hello sets the tone for the day.
  • As a leader, consider the ripple effect of your decisions.  Identify and reach out to all the stakeholders, those who will be in the wake of your tsunami, and consider the impact of your decision. Stakeholders include not only organizations and people, but the natural world, the environment as well.
  • Take a step each day to be more vulnerable, to be more authentic.
  • Rather than running from your fear, turn and face it. You will find that it is not as scary as you thought.
  • Take time to listen deeply. Listen to what is being said from behind the words. Listen to the feeling sense the message is clothed in. Listen to what it is evoking in you.

These are just a few ideas about finding your way back to connection. Success in our personal and professional life boils down to one thing and one thing only, CONNECTION.  “it’s all about connection.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts and your experiences about Finding Connection.

Mindfulness: What Is Your Doorway?

November 23, 2011 § 1 Comment

I believe we all have a doorway to mindfulness. For some it’s meditation, for others it’s acute focus. The doorway is that place or that experience that draws you into the moment. What is it for you?

I have found that for me, the most common place I experience mindfulness or being drawn into the moment, is in the forest. When I am present in a stand of trees, much as the picture above, I can sense “the space in between” not necessarily the trees themselves. It’s as if I’m being transported into another dimension.  I get a visceral sense or feeling of what it is to be the “space”. Many times it is as if my senses and thoughts completely shut down except the experience of being part of the space.

Rationally, I know that there is little difference between what is perceived as being “space” and “solid”.  But, the experience time and again seems to be some sort of doorway, drawing me into the moment. A sort of transcendence.

What is the doorway for you? If you have not experienced this then I would suggest paying closer attention.

Take a walk in the woods.

Be quiet.

Be still.

It will come to you.

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