Success Is As Close As Your Focus

Success Is As Close As Your Focus

I had the opportunity to help a stranger this morning. While I believe that charity begins at home, I felt an instant and great desire to reach out across the globe to help a young man, which for the sake of this writing I will call Adam. What struck a chord within me was his courage to ask for help from the global community, in light of the fact that he lives in a country that filters media, is socially oppressive and is politically unstable. He focused on finding an answer and when you’re driven by a calling, as he was, you’re as close to success as what you focus on.

 

Focus on a solution

 

I imagine, because of where he lives, he couldn’t turn to friends and family for help. He could have done nothing. He could have carried his problem alone or pointed a finger. He could have chosen to live in pain. He could have gone into seclusion. He could have taken his life. Instead, he chose to take charge of his destiny and, in response, received a tidal wave of help from complete strangers.

 

Solutions lie in the unknown not in what we already know. For Adam, success came he left his comfort zone, despite the possible repercussions. Familiarity keeps us from growing. It breeds stagnation and makes us fearful of new ideas.

 

I’m a problem solver. When I need solutions, feel frustrated, or I’m stuck, I pack my bags knowing that answers lie in uncharted paths. Success is as close as what you focus on.

 

 

Kindness doesn’t cost anything

 

We live in a great moment in time. More than ever, we’re aware of our scientific and spiritual connection to each other.   As all matter is energy and energy is indestructible, we live eternally.

 

As beings of energy, we influence others, create our reality and attract things through the frequencies and vibrations that we emit – in the words that we use, the speech that we engage in and the thoughts that we have. Like radio waves carried through time, what we say and how we say it, remains in the ether forever – a good reminder to be more cautious with my speech…

 

We’re the only species on earth that can communicate verbally, in writing, emotionally, telepathically and through time. So why not use this special gift on social media to show kindness, raise others up and bring value to the world?  When we focus on giving, we receive.

 

You may be helping others

 

This morning was a good reminder that it takes very little to help someone in need. It didn’t cost anything to respond to Adam’s plea and I wonder how many readers facing the same problem were helped by the countless replies that were offered.

 

We’re all natural born leaders and we all have the capacity to influence on some level but some people have fallen prey to criticism or judgment and forgotten. Your actions cause a ripple effect. Someone is watching and modeling what you do. What kind of leader do you want to be?

 

Epic leaders come in all sizes, shapes and colors. Their backgrounds are as diverse as their ideas to create a better world. Great influencers are not afraid to step out into the unknown. They’re not concerned with editorials, commentaries or feedback. They don’t waste time tweeting for praise. They’re not posting to gain followers. Genuine leaders are on a mission. They put on blinders and forge ahead to provide value to others, the way dozens of people did to help Adam.  Leaders are united by their focus.

 

So, how are you helping yourself, those around you and people who depend on you? What are you focusing on to achieve the success you want? If you’re unclear, don’t know how or need help, consider joining a community of supportive thought leaders and influencers. You’re as close to success as what you focus on.

What is the final frontier?

What is the final frontier?

Is space, the final frontier?  I beg to differ, Mr. Roddenberry.  The final frontier, in my opinion, lies within us, within the confines of our thoughts and within our power.  Unlike outer space, a domain where only a very privileged few will travel to, inner space is accessible to all and it’s free.  It’s a world that we can visit any time, anywhere and go there at a moment’s notice.  It’s a realm of infinite possibilities, endless joy and infinite potential.  Why?  Because unlike outer space, we create our inner space.

Do you know how to access you’re your inward world?  Just go within.  Meditate. It has been said that each of us has the potential to light up the earth.  I believe this.  We just have not discovered how.  But it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.  The potential is there.  Perhaps we haven’t found a way yet because we’re not ready for this kind of power.  Maybe we aren’t prepared to use this kind of energy.  But we can.  Masters of all ages have made this known to us. They have told us that we are beings of energy. Why does the world “light up” at the tweet of something wonderful?  Because we’re connected through energy.

What is energy other than usable power?  Google definitions for energy include:  the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity, vitality, vigor, life, liveliness, animation, vivacity, spirit, spiritedness, verve, enthusiasm, zest, vibrancy, spark, sparkle, effervescence, ebullience, exuberance, buoyancy.

So what does this have to do with digital marketing?  Imagine the benefits to humanity by exploring your potential, capturing your ability and sharing that power instantly around the world.  Today, that kind of immediate exposure can only be done online. Perhaps tomorrow it will be done telepathically.  But for now, using the tools we have available, digital communication is the fastest and most efficient way of sharing information globally.

The potential for using digital marketing as an altruistic tool is enormous.  Look at what people like Tony RobbinsRobert KiyosakiBob ProctorEsther Hicks and Louise Hay are doing online.  They have tapped into their inner power and money, for them, has just been a byproduct of helping others.  Imagine leaving behind the 9 – 5 schedule, doing something purposeful, quitting the commute and getting paid for your efforts.  Like space, the power of a digital life is limitless.

Now go within.  Listen to your inner voice.  Find your power.  Explore the ultimate final frontier.  What is it telling you?

The Day I Understood Forgiveness

The Day I Understood Forgiveness

I’ve been to Costa Rica numerous times, both for leisure as well as leading volunteer teams in service.

 

Most vacationers to this magnificent country only get to see the rich and famous areas dotted along the coastlines, places like Guanacaste. Few visitors have the opportunity to spend time with local residents in the interior of the country, where luxuries are few.

 

Whether your interests are helping individuals or eco protection, opportunities for service abound in this nature haven. I encourage anyone going there on vacation making time for service. It’s a life changing experience.

 

On one of my many trips as a volunteer team leader, I met Mr. Smythe. He was an elderly man of Jamaican descent who lived at a state-run nursing home.

 

The day I met him, he was wearing a spotless white shirt, offset by magenta pants and topped off with a French beret. The combination made him look very youthful and entertaining.

 

He came to the home when a passerby brought him after he had been abandoned next to a riverbank and left for dead by his family.  If you’re familiar with the rivers in this country, you know that they’re laden with crocodiles.

 

Mr. Smythe was a happy and gentle fellow. He shared his ancestry and talked about his kinsfolk who came to Costa Rica to build the railroads in the early 1900’s.

 

Most of the Jamaican immigrants settled in Siquirres, the only black community in the country. It’s also the only region that drinks tea instead of Costa Rican coffee. “Proper” British English is spoken here and Anglican hymns are heard as you stroll past churches on a Sunday morning.

 

I had a lengthy conversation and lovely afternoon with Mr. Smythe. We talked about a lot of things. He was curious to know why I was there, about the work I was doing and he asked me about my dreams for the future. We laughed a lot and enjoyed tea biscuits prepared by the caretakers.

 

After some time, he felt comfortable to reveal a secret. He began to chuckle and then said: “you have no idea that I’m completely blind, do you?” How could I? From his demeanor, engaging conversation and lively discussion, I couldn’t have known. I simply assumed he had cataracts. I was dumbstruck.

 

Mr. Smythe’s soul emanated a light and a joyfulness that I’ve seldom seen. Where does the power come from to be so forgiving after being abandoned by your family and losing your sight? I keep a framed picture of him holding his guitar, a beautiful reminder of the power of choice.

 

Breakdown the word forgive and it reveals its power. It means a quality not suited for taking, not for retaliating, not for anger but for giving.

 

Next time I have the tendency to retaliate, I’ll remember Mr. Smythe.

 

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”
— Les Brown

7 Secrets to Unlocking a Happy Life

7 Secrets to Unlocking a Happy Life

When I look at people that are happy, healthy, successful and enjoying the best of life, I wonder what it is that prevents others from having the same.  I’m a thinker and analyzer and I spent a lot of time contemplating this question.  I’ve come to the conclusion that to have a great existence, we have to change thought, cultural and behavioral patterns that don’t serve us.

Having a great life has little to do with where we were born, who are parents are, where we live, whether or not we have an education or money or what our race, religion or age is. Success in life, it turns out, has everything to do with a mindset. One thing is certain, those who are at the top of the happiness and success ladder have retrained and reprogramed how they view and experience the world.  They are masters of their lives and have the following practices in common.  If you want a great life, do these things.

Drown out fear

Easier said than done. I know. I’ve had a lot of practice. When we can get over fear, or at least minimize it, we can achieve just about anything. Fear plays a huge role in keeping us from living to our highest potential. It’s a horrible paralyzer. When I’ve been afraid of trying something new or different, I’ve missed out on great opportunities.

About four years ago, for the first time in my life, I took up Ashtanga yoga.  I’d heard it was a different style from mainstream yoga and since I’d never practiced any kind before, I had no expectations.  Before visiting a local shala (studio) I read a little bit about it and its spiritual leanings appealed to me.

There are not many certified Asthanga schools in the area because the practice is quite rigorous requiring teachers to spend much time in India learning from a lineage of masters.  Lucky for me, there’s a shala in my town. The day I visited, there was a master from India leading a class. He was touring the U.S. teaching two-week workshops in various parts of the country. Not having preregistered, I sat outside the room to observe and see what this was all about.

Other than calling out the postures (asanas) in Sanskrit, the master said nothing else.  There was no conversation between students, no cell phones, no water bottles, no props, no distraction of any kind other than the sound of the students’ breaths keeping rythm with the postures. I was mesmerized by their fluidness, flexibility and how they did handstands in twisted positions; their legs behind their necks, perfect back bends and movements I only thought possible by circus performers.  I could barely bend over into a 90 degree position!

The first thought I had was how I would hurt myself trying some of these asanas.  Why was I thinking like this?  I realized it was because I was listening to voices in my head, not my own, but the words of well-meaning people like parents, teachers, friends saying:  “you’re going to hurt yourself.”  When I realized that these words were ghosts of the past I decided to drown them out.

We are not born with fear.  Look at toddlers and young children in a playground.  Are they paralized by the thought of getting hurt?  Rarely.  Today I’m nearly finished with the primary series practice, which for many people can take many more years than it has taken me. I can stand on my head, lift myself in lotus position and do postures that I would have never imagined possible just a short time ago.  I feel better than I have ever before and I have more energy than many of my peers.  I sleep well.  I don’t have any body aches and overall, I feel terrific.

Stop the negative self-talk

The more I watched the yoga practice, the more I started telling myself I can’t do this.  The negative self dialog was saying this sort of practice is meant for people with “experience.”  I was also telling myself that I was reaching for something meant for people who are “better equipped.”  I was adding the idea that all the people in the room must be professional yoga teachers or, at the very least, very advanced practitioners. But in reality, I knew that was not the case. I was doing negative self-talk.

Haven’t we all done that at some point or another?  Why?  It goes back to things that we were told, things we read or things we experienced.  Think about it.  Just because you burned your mouth with pizza once, you haven’t stopped eating it.  It should be the same with any negative experience you may have had.  Don’t let it stop you from trying it again.

When we get past these destructive ways of thinking, we can accomplish just about anything. Putting an end to this negagive inner conversation, I decided to move forward and try the practice.

Stay away from naysayers

In 2014 I wrote, Agapanthus Rising, a book about self-empowerment to live life with passion, peace and purpose. Several people told me how impossible the process would be, that it would take a long time, that it would be too costly, etc.  I heard every reason why I should not try getting my book published and very few why I should.

Once I stopped listening to the naysayers, I succeeded.  Today besides the United States, my book is being sold overseas.  If you want something badly enough, have unwavering determination and get away from pessimists.  If you want a great life, stop listening to external voices.

Listen to your inner voice

The most important advice that we can listen to is our own – that quiet inner voice we all have.  We can hear it best by spending time alone and in meditation. When we close our eyes, quiet our minds and drown out outside noise, we hear the voice of intuition.

Deep down, we know better than anyone else what is best for us.  When we feel angst, nervousness, a knot in our stomachs, our built-in GPS telling us that we need to go in a different direction.  When we’re calm, excited, energized and act from a place of inspiration, we’re tuned in to our inner voice and sure to succeed.

Break from tradition

Just because something has been done one way in the past, it doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do it today.  Times change. Cultures change.  People change.  Technology changes.

Your parents may have done things a certain way but imagine putting your spin on it, it then becomes your signature. Better yet, come up with your own ideas despite the opinions of others.  Become an innovator.

One of my mentors, Abraham Hicks, gave a great example.  “My mother had her hand in the fire.  Her mother had her hand in the fire.  Her mother before that also had her hand in the fire.  Does that mean I have to have my hand in the fire, too?”  Logic tells us that will not be in our best interest.  Just because something is cultural, doesn’t mean we have to continue it.  If we’re to live lives of fulfillment, success and joy, we may just to break from tradition.

Remember you’re a powerful creator

We give up our creative power when we rely on others for validation. Lucky for the world that Steve Jobs didn’t listen to all those who turned him down!

When we give up an idea because someone else can’t see the value in it, we’re creating versions of what they want us to be, not what we want to be.  If you want a great life follow through on innovative ideas. Never mind what others say about it.  Spend time outdoors and hear what YOU have to say about it.  Scientists have proven that spending time in nature is beneficial to our health.  It calms our nervous system, makes us more intuitive and inspires our creativity. Whose life is it anyway?

What vision fills your heart with joy?  What kind of work would impassion you to get out of bed every day?  Follow that thought. You’re its creator.  That’s how the masters achieve what they want.

 

Connect to a power greater than you

There is no such thing as failure, only lessons learned. Failure is a judgmental and, frankly, outdated label that someone created long ago so they could have power over someone else.  In the Judeo-Christian world, we’re taught that we’re made in God’s image. In the quantum physics world, scientists tell us that we’re energy that is part of a Unified Field. Whether your leaning is scientific or spiritual, both philosophies remind us that we’re connected to something greater than ourselves, a Source.

I would suggest that before we take on any new venture, such as changing old patterns of thinking or behavior, it would be wise to tap into that greater power, however you define it. Whether it’s a friend, a religious God-head, an Energy field, or something else we can accomplish far greater things together than on our own.

If you want a great life, then do these things.

What It Took to Appreciate What I Have

What It Took to Appreciate What I Have

The most sobering experience of my entire life took place in July of 2006 when I went to Rwanda as part of a volunteer group. The purpose of the visit was to monitor child-headed households and HIV/AIDS programs sponsored by the religious community who sent us.

 

Officially known as the Republic of Rwanda, this nation is a former Belgian colony. It’s a picturesque country known as the Land of a Thousand Hills because of its endless high peaked green mountains.

 

We landed in the capital of Kigali. Topographically, it’s very similar to San Francisco. Its city streets are very steep.

 

On the third day, we drove northwest for several hours to the town of Nyaratovu in the province of Ruhengeri. A community close to the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo, this town is also near the gorillas that live in Virunga National Park in the mountains.

 

Our group wanted to see these amazing creatures, but we were discouraged by local leaders, not so much because of danger from the animals but due to the ongoing militia skirmishes between Rwanda and the Congo.

 

In addition to spending time with child-headed households and AIDS victims, we also visited micro-enterprises headed by women earning money to pay for their antiviral medications. Everywhere we went, we were welcomed with food and were smothered in love.

For months, I prepared by attending protocol workshops, learning basic Kinyarwandan, reading about the local history and absorbing important cultural facts.

 

At the time most of the country’s population was under the age of thirty, the result of the 1994 genocide that killed nearly one million people over the course of one hundred days- nearly 20 percent of Rwanda’s total population.

 

The massacre was the culmination of longstanding tensions between two tribes, the slaughter of Tutsi and moderate Hutu by members of the Hutu majority.

 

Other than a small United Nations peace-keeping force on the ground headed by Canadian Lt. General Roméo Dallaire, the call for help by the Rwandan population had been largely ignored by the rest of the world.

 

In her foreword to his post narrative account, Shake Hands with the Devil, Samantha Powers writes about the General’s courage.

 

“There are people in high places all over the world who would prefer if Dallaire would stop reminding them of Rwanda. They want him to bury his memories with the dead Rwandans. But Dallaire refuses to go away. He is bearing witness on behalf of the lost Rwandans, but also on behalf of those he has never met—those in places like Darfur, Sudan, who are alive today, but who may be dead tomorrow.”

 

I had several reality checks during this trip. I felt ill and had to leave early after looking at the victim photographs of thousands of newborns and young children at the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

 

I visited the Hotel de Milles Collines where the General and his troops held off the enemy for weeks to protect hundreds of people hiding inside.

 

What I saw was beyond belief. For starters, nothing protected the refugees from the enemy except a few scanty hedges between the hotel and the street. There were no gates, walls, or fences separating them from death. Their only protection was the courage of this great hero, a man I hope to meet one day.

 

Lt. General Dallaire and a handful of his men were under strict orders by the U.N. not to fire, even in self-defense. The only source of water was the swimming pool, which was used for consumption, preparing meals and washing blood-stained clothes.

 

I’d read about people jumping off the roof, preferring a faster death than one of being slowly hacked to death at the enemy’s hands. I walked around the back of the hotel to see for myself where people had landed. I did this so I could come back to tell the story in the hopes that this kind of hell will never happen again. What else could I do?

 

One day of this trip is particularly etched in my mind. We visited a family living at the summit of one of these thousands of hills. This country has so many that I was impressed that the driver knew which one we were looking for.

 

The van stopped at one point and we had to continue on foot wearing rucksacks on our backs because the engine couldn’t handle the steepness of the terrain.

 

We arrived at our destination and were greeted by a young girl probably not quite twenty years old. She was the head of this household raising four younger brothers.

 

The tiny home was made of mud and had a dirt floor. The interior was bare except for a calendar on the wall with a picture of Jesus.

 

The greyed garments on their bodies were the only clothes they owned. These were so patched and frayed one could hardly call them clothes. They were in tatters and there were no shoes in sight.

 

Through a translator, we learned that the children daily forage for food and water. Since the river is at the base of the hill, where we had just left by car, I couldn’t fathom making this trek every day.

 

I wondered about their diet. Although they seemed healthy, they were all stick thin. Their heads protruded from their meager shoulders, and we could see their ribs through the fabric.

 

Their story was the same as thousands of other children. They had lost all their relatives in the slaughter. The five of them had been surviving the elements under a tree for many months until someone opened their home to them.

 

About one hour into the conversation, the girl left. What happened next is one of those humbling experiences that changes you forever. When she reappeared she’d brought a dinner-sized plate of boiled manioc, a tuber-like vegetable with the consistency of a potato or yucca.

 

From everything that we had learned about them, it was evident that this dish represented several days worth of food for them and they were giving it to us.

 

To make the pain of my heart ripping apart even stronger, the young girl placed the dish on the ground before we started eating and she asked if she could say a blessing. I was never so glad to be in the back of the group and next to the door because I slipped outside and began to cry.