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suffering.

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“Hold your breath for a better day, and you’ll never learn how to breathe.
You’re afraid of the dark, but that’s where you learn to see.
Your no good to the living if you’re too afraid to bleed.
And that’s why your show starts now Your show starts now.”

– Cloud Cult “Your Show Starts Now”

If “flow” is a new term for you, here is what it is in a nutshell: Flow is a condition in which the self, body, and mind are hyper-engaged and present. Flow occurs at the nexus between suffering and victory. If you think of a time when you won a race or accomplished something profound, you probably felt an rush of success, pride, and relief simultaneously – and you were probably experiencing flow. Flow is awesome and is a condition that everyone wants in their lives and it effects everything from your physical well-being to your brain chemistry to your confidence and intrinsic motivation.

Flow is a loaded concept that I will explore in different ways down the road. However, the aspect of it I want to highlight today is the pain surrounding it.

Flow occurs after great suffering. If you have ever climbed a mountain, you experienced flow (and sore quads) upon reaching the summit. If you have aced a really hard test, you probably experienced flow upon receiving your A+ after weeks of studying and remarkably hard work. If you have ever received a prestigious job after days of focused preparation and anxiety, you probably experienced the flow state upon that memorable phone call or conversation. Suffering is necessary for success.

Are you stuck where you are, personally or professionally or athletically or creatively? One answer to breaking through that malaise might be intentionally putting yourself in a place to suffer. Do something hard. If you are a guitar player who is struggling to write music, you can lock yourself in a room for a day and focus on writing…or you can force yourself to learn piano. If you have hit a plateau socially, join a group that is completely different from what you’re used to.

Go be uncomfortable. Embrace the uneasiness. Let discomfort be your gift. It could lead to one of the happiest moments you will ever experience. Your show starts now.

 

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January 15, 2017 · 7:40 pm

Self Actualization

Some food for thought for your day.

I believe that our world is a balanced system, a depiction of tension between fulfilled results of actions while inherently holding an unknown limit of potential that is simply awaiting further realization and manifestation.

Self-actualization is a major theme in human development. It is covered in several theories, most prominently Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and refers to “the achievement of one’s full potential through creativity, independence, spontaneity, and a grasp of the real world.” (dictionary.com) When we fulfill potential and begin to see our dreams become reality, we self-actualize.

Imagine this for a moment: Our world is filled with billions of people, each uniquely created and gifted. Within each of those people are many, many dreams to become something and to do something that has an impact and that may further our civilization.In order to realize dreams, several factors need to occur, including immersion in an environment where the resources are needed and a supportive relationship is imperative.

We are leaders of people. As you walk through your day, look around at the people you witness. Can you play a part in helping a person to reach their potential? Maybe it means giving a person the courage to dream, maybe it means helping a person to have the means to go beyond “just surviving each day” and to think about doing something beyond said survival, or maybe it is something like helping a person to simply become better in their job, in their social circles, or in life.

Finally – imagine the result of all of the world’s leaders tapping into the great potential of others around them. Imagine the impact on the future. Imagine the transformation that could ensue when billions of unique dreams and capacities transfer from a subjective individual vision to an objective, externalized reality. A collective planet of self actualization, a remarkable shift from “can dream” to “can do,” and an actualization of an unknown limit of greatness. Maybe this looks like some sort of scene in a sci-fi movie or maybe this looks like something beyond anything any of us have ever imagined.

Now go help others learn how awesome they can truly be.

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January 6, 2017 · 9:36 am

Becoming Superfluous

We’re leaders. We’re used to – well – leading our teams and other leaders. That’s sort of our thing.

Being leaders, we’re used to calling the shots, making the hard decisions, and spearheading positivity from the front. But what if we were present with our teams but unable to do most of that when it mattered most?

This was my last two weeks.

In retail, the holiday season is gigantic. Come November, one half of our being is spent focusing on the normal job stuff but the other half is spent preparing for the last two weeks of December. I am no different here. However, around December 15th, something unexpected happened: I lost my voice. When I say “lost,” I mean straight up “lost.” We’re not talking Joan Rivers voice or Dom DeLuise. We’re talking whispering as best case scenario but even then it felt like broken glass in my throat. What’s more is that it was almost totally gone up until today, December 26th. What the heck?

I am a firm believer in the value of learning in every moment. It really bugged me that I was stuck stocking or doing office stuff when I wanted to be sweating and laughing alongside my team amidst the holiday shopping frenzy…but it didn’t take long to realize that I was largely not needed… and that is awesome.

It showed me that I have outstanding leaders just waiting to take flight, waiting for their chance to step up and shine. Everything I’d invested in my people could now be put on display…and did they ever shine!

Customers were happy. The sales floor looked awesome. Morale was great. Numbers were fine. No disasters happened. Everything was awesome.

How often do we stand in the way of our leaders, even when it is well intentioned?

How many people are ready to jump up to the next level and take our place of leading leaders?

So here is my challenge to you: Get the heck out of the way. Let your leaders lead and be awesome. Even if it is uncomfortable – and it should be uncomfortable – trust your leaders to learn on the fly, lead their teams confidently, make some mistakes, and make some awesome decisions. Give them feedback and create factors in the environment that will allow your leaders to grow through that process. It may surprise you who steps up and how they step up.

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December 26, 2016 · 8:14 am