12/12/09

Morning IV (Inner Voice) and Why Tiger Failed.

What is your Inner Voice trying to tell you?

Do you ever encourage a conversation with your IV (Inner Voice or what some experts call the Voice of Intuition)? I do. Most often while walking in nature or writing Q&A dialogue before I fall asleep at night or first thing in the morning when I wake up.

My IV is the conduit to self-discovery and solutions to challenges; comfort when I’m experiencing fear, disappointment, or anger; appreciation when I do something well; and wise counsel that I may not want to hear but when I trust helps me live authentically with integrity and leads me to the answers I’m seeking.

This morning when I awoke at 4:48 AM, I sensed it was time for a Q&A session. After asking my IV for guidance and typing stream of consciousness on my laptop for 20 minutes, the timer chimed for me to end. I continued writing to bring closure to the conversation and heard something that equally surprised me and reminded me of something I often forget, which I’ve shared below.

Oh, I should also mention that sometimes my IV says things that initially appear to have no personal relevance (you’ll see what I mean with the Tiger Woods comment). I’ve learned to write whatever comes even if it doesn’t make sense in the moment because when I reread what I’ve written later, the Eureka Moment often arrives and I know that what I’ve heard is both a personal message for me and a Universal Truth (from my limited conscious perspective) that is so compelling I’m inspired to share it with you.

So here’s the conversation. I’d love to know what you think when you’ve finished reading, so please leave a comment or email me.

MM: I don’t want to open my eyes. It’s safer in here, where I can feel my connection to you.

IV: Tiger was not connected to himself and that was his failure. All people will fail when they lose their connection to their Inner Voice. Your Inner Voice will never lead you down a path that destroys you. Your willfulness is what destroys you when you go against what you know to be loving. It is that simple.

When your needs are suffering because you are not connected to your Inner Voice, you will make decisions that do not serve you. It is understandable, but not necessary.

Listen more, intend more, and actions will be clear. Not always easy because there are so many energies pulling you in different directions, but there is a yes or no that can be instituted quickly. And once you learn to follow that voice, and act on the answer, you will flourish.

Go practice. It leads to greatness. And you are already great in our book.

There is no one to impress. Just people and life to love.

MM: Thank you.

Whatever Tiger’s reasons for his choices, whatever the cynics say, however you view failure, the message for me is loud and clear: There is no one to impress. Just people and life to love.  How slowly I learn, how quickly I forget, how important it is I remember.

What about you? What do you think? I’d really like to hear from you. Mary

02/17/09

Discover Your Happiness Strengths

After a four year hiatus, today I repeated the VIA (Values in Action) Strengths survey on the newly updated happier.com. Once again, I was reminded of the power of self-discovery and self-awareness, and the immense value of identifying your personal strengths.

The site highlights research and assessments by the gifted Dr. Martin Seligman, founder of the Positive Psychology movement at the University of Pennsylvania and helps you apply that research to your life in very user-friendly ways.

According to the VIA Institute on Character, this survey is the most scientifically validated tool for measuring character strengths. Over 1.3 million people have taken it. There are 24 qualities that have been validated as strengths that lead to happiness when applied to your daily life. Alphabetically listed, here they are:

Appreciation of beauty and excellence
Bravery and valor
Capacity to love and be loved
Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
Curiosity and interest in the world
Forgiveness and mercy
Gratitude
Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness
Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness
Humor and playfulness
Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness
Kindness and generosity
Leadership
Love of learning
Modesty and humility
Perseverance, industry and diligence
Perspective (wisdom)
Prudence, caution, and discretion
Religiousness, spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith
Self-regulation and self-control
Social intelligence
Teamwork, citizenship and loyalty
Zest, enthusiasm, and energy

When you take this free profile online, which I highly recommend, you’ll be asked 240 multiple choice questions. Set aside a half hour to answer – it’s worth the time because what you’ll learn can positively shape everything you do. You’ll be fascinated, I promise.

At the end of the profile, you’re presented with a personalized list and description of your 24 strengths in order of importance to you. While the list wasn’t new information to me since I’d taken it before, it did show that four of my strengths remained in the top five in a new order and reflected more of how I experience my happiness now, which is a real gift because it reconfirms what has helped me survive some very challenging personal changes in the past four years and is what I can count on and follow when the world around me is in flux (like now!).

Another powerful reminder of this assessment, similar to Marcus Buckingham’s work and the Gallup StrengthsFinder, is that for a person to feel happy on a regular basis, your day (work and personal time) needs to include activities where you can apply and experience your top five strengths.

Here’s my Happier.com list of top 5 strengths:

1. Appreciation of beauty and excellence
2. Gratitude
3. Curiosity and interest in the world
4. Kindness and generosity
5. Love of learning

Fortunately for me, my work as a speaker and writer committed to helping people stay inspired through challenge and change allows me to use these strengths every day. But…that doesn’t mean I’m always aware that I am doing so, or actually using those strengths, and therein lies a major key to feeling happier – a written daily strengths checklist and journal you can review and act from, especially when you’re going through a difficult time.

A few other interesting insights:

The profile lists your strengths in order of preference and while it’s not stated, you can presume that your 24th strength is also your greatest challenge.

Not surprisingly, I share #24 with most other people who take the profile. (When I went through Seligman’s six-month “Authentic Happiness Coaching Program,” they mentioned this research fact.)

Drum roll, please: my #24 is Self-Regulation and Self-Control. While there many areas of my life where this is not true, where it does fit is with time management. I have a hard time sticking to my own self-defined schedules for getting projects done (which is another reason why I love accountability partners and client timelines).

But here’s the good news in identifying and applying your strengths: On the occasions that I do get stuck, if I apply even one of my strengths to getting something done that I’m avoiding that is important and not urgent (Covey’s Key Success Quadrant), magic can and often will occur.

For example: First thing in the morning, I love to walk at Torrey Pines Reserve and Beach, take photos of moments that inspire me (here’s one from today), and then journal, all of which I do almost every early morning before I start my work day. These activities energize and nurture me and as I was reminded again today, tap into my strengths.

Once I get to my desk, if it becomes challenging for me to stick to my daily work plan (what plan!?), and I find myself clicking on the Mahjong Titans computer game or stepping away from my desk for a sugar-fat snack attack, it’s a sign I’m off track. While fun, those actions don’t move me forward in my day or life. The key to my success in that moment (and long term) is to catch myself in that .5 second that researchers say a decision occurs, and do the following: smile, take a deep breath, review my strengths list, and ask myself, “How can I apply at least one of these strengths to this task?” In the case of a marketing call, I simply have to remember how grateful I am to get to do the work I do, how much I appreciate my audiences, and how curious I am to learn more about a new client, and voella!, the calls get made and I’m using my strengths in service to my higher purpose and vision.

And, sometimes, honestly, playing Mahjong Titans and hiking to the store for a king-size Reese’s Crispy Crunchy Bar still do the trick.

You can take the VIA Happiness Strengths for free at Happier.com. Go take it now. You’ll be glad you did. And if you’d like this type of information presented at your business or organization, or would like a complimentary coaching session on how to apply this in your life, email me at mary (at) marymarcdante.com.