10/28/13
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Living with Enthusiasm: What’s the Best That Could Happen?

The Land of I Can by Susan Gilbert, CEO, OnlinePromotionSuccess.com
A friend and colleague of mine, Susan Gilbert, CEO of OnlinePromotionSuccess.com is a focus strategist and author of the award-winning inspirational book The Land of I Can. Today on Facebook, she posted a great question: “What’s the best that could happen?” First of all, GREAT QUESTION. Second, Susan is an expert at helping people figure this out and she walks her talk, as I discovered when I interviewed her for my book Living with Enthusiasm. Here is her story from Day 10:  Focus on the Good, p. 102-103.

Within a two-week period, Susan’s home was burglarized while she slept, her car was stolen, and the IRS audited her business. Watching her respond to these “situations” was a lesson in grace. Even one of these circumstances is enough to throw someone into the land of fear, blame, or depression. Yet Susan’s ability to maintain a positive mind-set amazed me…and still does. After the audit was completed, I asked her how focusing on the “good” kept her enthusiastic during these stressful incidents.

“Focusing on the good in any circumstance and being able to do so immediately is an art. With practice it can become as natural as breathing – automatic and life affirming. Two strategies really helped me through this experience. The first is believing that I create my own reality. The reality of the burglary could have been “I’ve been attacked. I’ve been violated. I’ve lost things that were important to me – physical things – a car, computer equipment an camera.” That could be a reality. And where did I create that? I created that with my thoughts. So I could also create a different reality.

I also chose to focus on the fact that I was safe and had the ability to create a safer environment. I focused on how some pre-existing problems were solved as a result of the burglary. For example, my front door had been sticking for months. I had been telling myself that it was sure to eventually lock me out. Because the burglars took my keys, I put new locks on the doors and got my front door fixed at the same time. So where did that thought come from? It came from within me. I had the ability to create my own reality.

Once I realize that I can look at any situation and create what I want from it, then it’s never about the circumstance and it’s always about my experience of the circumstance. I make that decision.

The second strategy I used was asking myself, “Where is the gift in this?” Aren’t you enthusiastic when someone gives you a gift? All of our lives, experiences are gifts – even the ones that don’t feel like it at the time. Days, weeks, months, and years later, we can look back at what felt like a disaster – the death of a loved one, a lost romance, job, illness, etc. – and say, “Gee, it didn’t feel like it at the time, but that situation was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

I was speaking with my accountant after the audit. He said, “Susan, every small business person gets hit at least once. It’s just a matter of time. Even though it came at a bad time for you, at least you can put that behind you.” That was a reframe [changing the way one looks at something] and a gift. Better that it happens now than when my company becomes a multi-million dollar business.

If you don’t train yourself to look for the gift, then it’s not even a possibility. You just stay stuck in your past thinking, “It’s a bad situation.” If you’re willing to look, anything can be a gift.

(P.S. Susan’s car was returned and the audit ended well.)

EnthusiAction:  Make a list of three difficult “situations” in your life and identify the gift you received from each. If you can’t find a gift, keep looking or ask a friend to help you discover it. Sometimes, what is good is right in front of our noses or right around the corner but we gave up too soon to experience it.

If you’re in the middle of a difficult situation, trust that based on past experience, there is a gift on its way to you when you stay focused on the good and answer the question “What the best that could happen?”

Look for the good.

If you would like more genuine enthusiasm in your life… 

Learn more about how you can receive for FREE the first 4 weekly sessions of the Living with Enthusiasm Self-Coaching Guidebook and Joy Journal. Click here…

 

Thanks for sharing!
08/25/13
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Ironmans, Dreams, and Big Hairy Audacious Goals

1990-eileen-ironman-2-mm_lowres

What do an Ironman race and your dream or big hairy audacious goal (BHAG) have in common?

My sister Eileen is in Louisville, Kentucky today competing in her 12th Ironman. 12th!!! At 58 years old! What a rock star! Her commitment, discipline, and passion for a healthy lifestyle that has spanned over 20 years continues to inspire me to stay the course in my life when I want to drop out.

I had the privilege of cheering Eileen on during her first Ironman in Kona Hawaii in 1990 (this photo of us is just after Eileen finished that race – note the incredible “glow” coming through her). Going through that experience with her (I was definitely an armchair athlete at the time) changed my life in so many incredible and healthy ways including daily exercise and learning to racewalk and love it.

In honor of Eileen, I’m posting a story from my book, Living with Enthusiasm: How the 21-Day Smile Diet Can Change Your Life about how she prepared to qualify for her first Ironman. Her story, especially now, a quarter century after she started training for her first Ironman, is inspiration for anyone who has a dream and wonders if they’ll ever be able to make it come true.

My sister Eileen wanted to be a nurse from the time she was a little girl. When she reached college and discovered running, she also decided she wanted to compete in an Ironman Triathlon – a 2.5-mile swim in Hawaii’s ocean, 112-mile bike ride, and 26-mile marathon completed within 17 hours – by the time she reached age 40.

Eileen became a nurse at age 22 and competed in her first Ironman Triathlon at age 35. Receiving a nursing degree is a feat in itself (God bless our nurses; I opted out of nursing school when I heard bedpans and catheters were part of the program). Getting to that first Ironman is also a huge triumph.

To qualify for the Ironman, participants must either be selected in a lottery from thousands of entrants or prequalify in a prior triathlon and come in first in their age group. Eileen trained daily with a friend for the year prior to the race and received coaching from an exercise physiologist.

Because she didn’t win the lottery, she competed in the prequalifying race. During the five-hour drive to the race’s starting point, she listened to the positive goal audiotape she made for herself a month earlier. In fact, she had listened to it every day to keep herself motivated. The tape included her favorite music and a script she had written and read into a tape recorder. She wrote the script in first person as if she were running the race and doing it perfectly – “I am running at my best, I overcome all obstacles, I finish first in my age group…”

She did it! Eileen qualified for the Ironman! The evening after the race I called her to ask how she did and she said, “Mary, the most incredible thing happened. During that entire race, whenever I felt myself slowing down, I heard the tape in the back of my mind saying, ‘You can do it. Keep going just another ten feet.’ So I did and I came in first! I can’t believe it! And more amazing is that generally there are about 15 to 20 seconds between each person at the finish line. But the person who finished second in my age group was 18 minutes behind me!”

Fast-forward 12 years. Eileen has accomplished these two goals and gone on to expand them. She is now a nurse practitioner at Children’sHospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is also a volunteer women’s running coach for Special Olympics and an accomplished triathlete, having completed eight annual Ironman triathlons and five World Championship triathlons.

Like Eileen, you have the capacity to accomplish whatever you set out to do. Make a commitment to your goal and recommit to it on a daily basis. Not easy, but definitely worth it.

Fast forward another 11 years to today, August 25, 2014 and count 12 Ironmans, 5 (or is it 6? 7 now?) World Championship Triathlons, annual multiple summer marathons and the Birkebeiner X-Country ski race, a “Race Across America” bicycle race, Tough Mudder, 50K Extreme Race, and 8,760 days of swimming, running, and/or biking. And working on a Ph.D. in nursing while continuing as a Nurse Practitioner at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee.

Whatever your dreams, the path to manifesting them, while often not easy, is clear and simple: every day, one step at a time, even – or especially when – you don’t feel like it, continuing to say Yes, I can. Yes, I will. Yes, I am. One day you will saying “Yes, I did!

“What I’ve learned in my years as a competitive wheelchair athlete is this– what separates a winner from the rest of the pack is not raw talent or physical ability; instead, it is the drive and dedication to work hard every single day, and the heart to go after your dream, no matter how unattainable others think it is.”

~ Linda Mastandrea, Special Olympics athlete ~

Thanks for sharing!
05/12/13

The Secret in Your Mother’s First Name

My Mother, My Friend: The 10 Most Important Things To Talk About With Your Mother by Mary MarcdanteHappy Mother’s Day! Today is one of the most celebrated days of the year in the United States that honors our mothers, yet many of us barely know the rock stars these women are beyond their role of mother in our lives. One way to get to know your mother in a new way is to start saying your mother’s first name (and middle if she has one) out loud to yourself.

“Grace Rose.” Whoa. Who’s that? At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. All it took was my mother’s cancer diagnosis to change that. Don’t wait for a crisis or funeral like I did to learn the secret that your mother’s first name holds.

Being willing to know your mother at a deeper level is an act of courage. Calling her by her first name rather than Mom or Mother or Mama, even if just to yourself, acknowledges that she is more than just your mother. She is not just there to meet your every need. She is a woman in her own right, with hopes and dreams and needs and desires just like you.

Consider asking your mother to try an experiment with you. Ask her if you may call her by her first name a few times to see if it expands your awareness of her as a friend. If she says no, you can still say her first name to yourself when you think of her. What will begin to happen is that as you allow your awareness of her to expand, she may share parts of herself that you have never known about or even thought to ask about. Secrets that hold the key to releasing a painful memory or understanding a confusing part of yourself may surface. If you prepare and welcome her into your heart as you would a close friend, her truth will be a gift of self-discovery for both of you.

Sarah’s mother was in her eighties and in poor health. She experienced her mother as a cranky woman with whom she found it very difficult to talk. One day, in frustration, Sarah yelled her mother’s name, “Olivia!” Startled, her mother began to cry. Overcome with guilt, Sarah called out in a soft, loving voice, “Olivia, Olivia, I love you, Olivia.” From that time on, Sarah recalls that she never looked at her mother the same way. “My mother became a person to me. She was no longer ‘just’ my mother. I realized that she really was separate from me and had a right to her feelings, just as I did, no matter how ill-tempered she was. I was able to love her more fully after that.”

Have you ever called your mother by her first name? What is your mother’s first name (and middle name if she has one) and what has your experience been? Share your thoughts in comment box below. I’d love to hear from you.

Grace Rose

Happy Mother’s Day Grace Rose. You lived your first name. I love you.

Excerpted from “My Mother, My Friend: The 10 Most Important Things To Talk About With Your Mother” by Mary Marcdante.

Thanks for sharing!