Your Path to Greatness

by Guest Author on December 27, 2012 · 0 comments

Success is defined in different ways by different people, but more and more it has become synonymous with money and status. Real success, however, is less about results or a bottom line, and more about the process of achieving goals and dreams.

Many business people today are overwhelmed by the need to maintain results-driven success. Once we decide that the results are all that matter, then success comes at high price. We find ourselves making sacrifices and compromises that were once unacceptable. We trade today for some future payoff. When that payoff comes, we realize it can never be enough. And, when the results we work so hard for don't materialize, we label that failure. It's an impossible model to sustain for a lifetime.

Fortunately, there is another way.

In my book, Own YOUR Success, I contrast results-driven success with a much more balanced approach. The key principles are ones that anyone can put into practice immediately.

The first principle is Attain Belief in Yourself, which I break into five keys:

  1. Accept the truth . Acknowledging the person you are today is the key to becoming the person you want to be and, ultimately, to attaining belief in yourself. There is a big difference between failing and not getting the results we want. Instead of seeing failure, see opportunities for growth and change.
  2. Speak the truth. Be honest about your past behaviors and habits. While it may be difficult to acknowledge them, burying those parts of our lives makes us feel like victims, amplifying our fear and pain. Shedding light on the past, by talking with a trusted friend or professional, frees us.
  3. Breathe through the truth. Avoid reacting from a place of pain or anger – no matter how much you believe you are right. Be open to changing your perspective. Treat yourself lovingly. Do not self-destruct.
  4. Process the truth. Give yourself time and space to find your equilibrium. Developing belief in yourself means gaining confidence that will lead to a stronger foundation.
  5. Create a plan based on the truth. Changing entrenched behaviors and mindsets takes time, and sometimes they return. Stay strong. Continue to believe and actively engage in this process. Define how you want to live your life from where you are right now.

Once you attain belief in yourself, you can believe in others – as all great leaders do. Use meditation and mindfulness to gain focus and clarity. This allows you to act with purpose, intention, and awareness at all times.

The second principle is Act with Courage and Integrity.

Whether you are the CEO, in middle management, or in an entry level position, when you act with courage and integrity, it inspires others to do the same. A big part of that is appreciating all people and the selfless acts and sacrifices they make every day.

The third principle is Create Your Prizefighter Day – Do Great Things!

Each day set three attainable activity goals: one personal, one professional, and one to help others. By taking action in these three areas every day, you make each day victorious. The victory is not in the results, but in the actions themselves. Even if what you do doesn't turn out perfectly, as you may have hoped, the experience of accomplishment every day is a victory.

The fourth principle is Create a Living Legacy.

Surrender to a cause greater than yourself. Find your passion and live it every day. Work diligently toward your goal. Fight for what you believe in despite the obstacles in your path. Don't wait to leave a legacy after you're gone. Live that legacy every day.


High performance sales expert Ben Newman is a distinguished author, international speaker and coach from St. Louis. In 2012, The Napoleon Hill Foundation recognized Ben as one of the TOP 51 speakers & thought leaders in the World!

Ben is a 4-time author and his latest book, Own YOUR Success: The Power to Choose Greatness and Make Everyday Victorious is a #1 Business Best-Seller and was ranked #2 in August 2012 by 800.CEO.READ for "What Corporate America is Reading.". He is also the author of Fight the Good Fight, Pocket Truths for Success & Pocket Principles for the Insurance Business.

Life’s Difficulties

by Elisa Van Arnam on December 22, 2012 · 7 comments

"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." ~ Viktor Frankl

It seems sort of irreverent to write on the topic of "life's difficulties," given the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary school last week. There isn't a single difficulty that I have experienced in my lifetime that couldn't, at its' root, be fixed. I am obviously grief stricken for all of those involved in the shooting and I, like you, have felt, at times, pretty darn helpless.

So I wanted to try and tackle what we can do to help others and ourselves with "life's major difficulties." Over the past few days, I have read many articles on this subject and have taken bits and pieces I found to be particularly helpful and created an action plan below.

*For the sake of this article, I have focused my ideas around the death of a loved one, but these suggestions can be molded and applied to any of life's major difficulties.

What I know for sure is that our helplessness doesn't serve us , it doesn't serve our families or our communities and it really doesn't serve those who need our help the most. We need to be strong and active in our compassion, care and comfort, and by doing so we can be of service to those in need. In turn, by working with these ideas, you make actually find your own road to self-healing.

For Ourselves:

To be of service, we must come from a place of strength. It's easy to get captivated by the drama of whatever has unfolded, but, again, that does no good. We need to be vigilant about cultivating and sharing our own light. As they say in the safety instructions on a plane, put on your own air mask first and then you can help others.

  • Cultivate joy in everyday moments. Find small things to be happy about. Make a list, read the list, add to the list, refer to the list when feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, sadness or grief seem to over take you.
     
  • Express gratitude for everything you have. Don't take what you have for granted. Even if it's the health and well being of your child. Don't apologize for the love you have, celebrate it. A quote by several survivors of tragedies similar to Newtown said, "As you honor what you have, you honor what I've lost."
     
  • Do not feel guilty about or be afraid to express your joy. Do not think, "If I let my guard down, something bad is bound to happen." Returning to joy after a tragedy can be very scary and make you feel incredibly vulnerable. But every time you allow yourself joy, you build that muscle of hope. And if that joy becomes more a part of who you are, when bad things happen, and they will happen, you are stronger.
     
  • Meditate and Pray. Find time each day to do both. There is such comfort and healing in the silence of meditation and such power in affirmative prayer.

For Others:

When someone you love is faced with one of life's major difficulties, one of the best things you can do for them is to help build a mental, emotional and physical cocoon of sorts; a place where they know they can go to seek comfort, love, peace and refuge. The cocoon should be "built" by you and should look something like this:

  • Unconditional, non-judgmental love and support as long as they need it, even years later.
     
  • Availability: to listen, to run errands, to babysit, to deliver meals, whatever is needed.
     
  • Acceptance: of their moods, their tears, their anger, their vulnerability. You cannot take away their pain, but you can share it and make them feel less alone.
     
  • Allowance: of talking about their difficulty, as much or as little as they like.
     
  • Attention: to everyone effected; husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters.
     
  • Ask: How are you really doing? Be vulnerable enough to let your genuine care and concern show. Cry with them, hold them, give them permission to let it out.
     
  • Say that you are sorry.
     
  • Extend invitations: (and continue to do so) but be wholly understanding if they don't accept, or cancel at the last minute or don't respond at all.
     
  • Take the time: send personal notes or make a donation to a charity. Write the dates of the birth and the death on your calendar and be a vigilant friend on those days.
     
  • Offer prayer.

One of the most loving (if not the most loving thing) we can do for someone in need, is to simply be present with them in their mourning. This can be very, very difficult to do, and it can be healing beyond your ability to comprehend it. It is the truest gift you can give someone.

One last piece of advice that I was gifted this morning that I really wanted to include in this piece is about how we can work to prevent tragedies like this in the future. Information is empowerment and I want to share all I have.

Beyond school safety, gun control and dealing better with mental health issues in our youth, a friend pointed out to me that parents always seem to be the very last to suspect anything off about their children.

She suggested, and I fully agree, that something missing in our society at large is the idea that we need to cultivate relationships with other adults for our children. I need to seek out other adults that I know, love and trust and I need to foster relationships with them and my children, so that my children have an adult to talk with who is not me.

As they grow older, no matter how beautiful and perfect I imagine my relationship with them to be, I am most likely one of the very last people they will come to if they are having major problems. If we have chosen adults that they know, love and trust, who can be there for them, no questions asked, we stand a better chance of stopping a tragedy before it happens.

My heart, my prayers, my love and light travel with you as you read these words. I extend it out to all those directly effected by the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings. I hope that in my words, you have found some comfort, some direction, some hope. We are all in this together.


by Elisa Van Arnam

Stories

by Guest Author on December 16, 2012 · 1 comment

buffett

"How I got here doesn't tell me who I am" ~ Open Hearted Hand

What do you believe and why do you believe it?

We have been living out of stories that we're told. Stories we tell ourselves about ourselves… stories history books tell us… the newspapers tell us…. our parents tell us…

We decide whether we believe in these stories or not. And build quite complex cases to justify our position.

But where did these stories begin?

If you look deep enough, every story comes from fear or fearlessness.

History books – stories written by the victors – either by morals or by might. The stories are built around "us vs. them" – and not just conquest of countries and people, but nature and spirit as well.

Parents – stories told to their children – lived out as values and influences that are a direct reflection of what they needed – and did or didn't get – as children themselves.

Society – stories told through a myriad of laws (spoken and unspoken), media and modes of behavior that define what a community values and aspires to.

We act and react out of the stories we believe in. We are constantly making choices – almost always unconsciously – from the basis of what we believe. We live in a constant state of reacting from what we "know" to be true or untrue.

This is our past – collectively and individually – animating us. "Telling" us what to do based on what we "know".

This is reflected in the frustration of the Occupy movement. Something's wrong… and it's big. But what is it? Something in the story is off track.

Is it really 99% vs. 1%? Or is it 1% in all of us?

What we're really looking for is a new story – a story to live in to. Not old stories to live out of.

This country was "discovered" as a commercial enterprise. Of course it's devolved into a financial disaster! All you have to do is read the first quotes of Columbus to see where we were heading:

"They willingly traded everything they owned…. They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane…. They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."

So now I'll start the piece over with:

What do you know and why do you know it?

We know with our hearts. We know with our gut. Our body tells us what we know.

Our mind processes and decides based on old information.

It's time to not be afraid. To listen again. And know that anything – everything – is possible.

It's time to create the story we want to live in to. And become that story ourselves.


Peter Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, is an Emmy Award-winning composer, NY Times best-selling author and noted philanthropist. Currently, he is releasing socially-conscious music and touring his “Concert & Conversation” series in support of his book Life Is What You Make It.    

What do you think? Share your story at changeourstory.com Visit www.peterbuffett.com to learn more and Change Our Story to join the conversation on how we all can become active participants in shaping our future.  

seasons-mini-cooper

I became a father a little over four years ago. Before that, my wife and I had been married for eight years and worked together on our small business. We were used to working long days, coming and going as we pleased, and eating out at nice, quiet restaurants. We used to have a Cheerio-free backseat in our car. But now we have two kids, which practically makes me an expert at parenting.

An expert at knowing how little I actually know about it, that is.

Not having our first child until well into our marriage came with advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, we developed strong communication skills and had lots of time to discuss our hopes and strategies for parenthood. On the downside, we were pretty well set in our ways.

Eating out at nice, quiet restaurants is easy to get used to, after all.

Our first four years of parenthood were a challenging transition, as we learned how to juggle babies and the business on much less sleep than we were used to. I think we're doing ok, but I still struggle from time to time with the new season I find myself in.

Seasons. Just as the year is divided into spring, summer, fall, and winter, our lives are divided into different seasons. Our life at fifty looks a lot different than our life at twenty.

My problem is that even though I am in the new season of early fatherhood, I still act like I should be doing the same things I did in my previous season, pre-kids. How can I work the same hours and accomplish the same number of things as I did before I had kids? It’s as frustrating as it is impossible. On the flip side, it often feels like the season I'm currently in will last forever. (Any other new parents out there feeling like you'll be changing diapers FOREVER?!)

In the decade before kids, my job was to help people feeling rushed, stressed and overwhelmed. I worked long hours, did a lot of networking, made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot about business and marketing. With a lot of outside help, I was able to create a solid business that provides for my family. Now that the business is more stable than it was in the early days, I have the opportunity to put more focus on my role as a father and husband. It’s not that I’m supposed to neglect  the business, it’s just that this season requires me to allocate my time a bit differently.

Because no matter who you are, or where you live, or how much money you have or don't have, the one thing we all have in common is that we only get 24 hours per day.

And when we try to pack our day like a family of five heading out on a cross-country trip in a Mini Cooper, stress is sure to follow.

Stress happens when we forget what season we are in and try to do too much.

Are you in a state of near-constant overwhelm? Are you always feeling rushed, wishing you could find a way to add a few more hours to your day? Perhaps you are trying to do things that aren't required of you during this particular season.

It would be easy if there were some obvious things you could sweep off your plate. Bad stuff. Useless stuff. Unimportant stuff. But it’s not a matter of doing things that aren’t worthwhile.  My guess is that everything on your plate is good.

It’s awfully hard to let go of something that’s good.

Wanna know a secret?

Just because something is good doesn’t mean you have to do it.

Sometimes we have to say no to the good to say yes to the best.

Maybe some of those good things  can be let go of now that you find yourself in a new season. And maybe some good things need to be put on the shelf until the next season. For instance, if you are seriously ill, maybe you need to give yourself permission to let go of some of your responsibilities so you can focus on getting well. If you are a parent, perhaps your career ambitions need to be downsized a bit in order to become the parent you want to be. Or maybe some of your social activities or volunteer efforts can be resumed when your kids are a little older.

Is it easy? Of course not. But neither is a life spiraling out of control, burdened by busyness and stress.

Slowly but surely, I’m learning to let go of the guilt of not working as much as I used to. I’m making a point to notice, appreciate, and savor the exciting blessings that are new to this season I now find myself in. I’m enjoying the breathing room that has been created by cleaning a few things off my plate, allowing more time for my kids, and more time for God.

And I’m realizing that as great as a quiet meal at a nice restaurant can be, it’s nothing compared to a quiet evening spent with a one-year-old eating Cheerios out of my hand.


by Jason Kotecki

How to Find the Lesson in the Life Challenge

by Stacey Curnow

When my son, Griffin, started kindergarten, he had an interesting assessment of his teacher: “She’s nice, but says ‘not-nice’ things.” Like him, I also noticed that she issued a lot of stern commands, and I had noticed that the teacher in the next classroom invited her students to do things in a friendly tone and […]

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Remove Daily Pressure and Stress Through Meditation, Sleep and Relaxation

by Guest Author

How do you deal with stress? What do you do to remove it from your days? Too much stress can threaten your sleep, affect your relationships and give you gray hair. Sleep loss and stress lead to other health risks, like premature aging and delayed response while driving; stress affects the decision making process and […]

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I Challenge You To Life

by Jen Slayden

I challenge you to…..LIFE! I love the theme Lance picked for the month of December: Life Challenges. First off, I appreciate the way the word “challenge” insinuates that there is opportunity. I know that in my past I have viewed the word in a negative light. I would automatically think disaster, tragedy, confrontation, perhaps even […]

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Thought For The Day

by Lance Ekum

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop […]

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