Attention to Appearances

When it comes to health one of the quickest ways people can tell if you’re healthy or not is by looking at you. If you’re not healthy you won’t look healthy and probably won’t take time to really care for your appearance. Countless people have said that they find that just by putting on certain clothes they felt more confident, better about themselves, more capable and more focused. I’m always amazed how the seemingly littlest things can make such a big difference.

Let’s be honest, we all have our ‘lounge around the house clothes’ and some of us who are lucky enough to work from home don’t really get dressed up before sitting down to work each day. And that’s just fine, we certainly don’t need to look ready to meet someone really important every second of every day. It’s good to get out of the clothes that you wear to your job or to meet with clients and take time to relax.

But whether you work from home or not you most likely will still have interactions with people, whether that’s going to the grocery store, coffee shop, family activities, or to meet with a client. I enjoy my ‘house’ clothes as much as the next person, but unless you’re really sick or really pregnant I don’t agree that you should wear just anything when you go out. Part of the reason is because you are creating impressions everywhere you go anytime you go anywhere. People’s judgments of you isn’t the question, but rather it’s about you showing your best self to the world.

If you look put together and like you care about how you look, you’ll get more respect and usually have a better experience than if you go looking like you don’t care about anything. Your appearance is the first impression you make on someone, and while it’s always possible to repair first impressions usually we only get one shot. So don’t waste your opportunities and choose to put your best foot forward every day.  If you’re not sure what your best foot looks like, make the time and investment to talk with a stylist to talk about the clothes, and hairstyle, and when appropriate makeup, that’s right for you.

I encourage you to put a little extra effort into your appearance each time you go out this week and see what a difference it makes for you personally and with your interactions with the world.

Mistake Mentors

In life we all make mistakes, I discovered a few of mine in the past few days and have been working to rectify them, so today I thought I’d share some inspiration about not being perfect, about working with what went wrong and about accepting yourself for who you are, mistakes and all.

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” Marilyn Monroe

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”  Judy Garland

“If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire—then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. Learn to separate the inconveniences from the real problems. You will live longer.” Sigmund Wollman

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” Elbert Hubbard

“It was when I found out I could make mistakes that I knew I was on to something.” Ornette Coleman

“That’s not serious, it’s just human.” Jerry Kopke

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” John Powell

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Albert Einstein

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” Walter Elliott

“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.”  Harriet Braiker

“It is very easy to forgive others their mistakes; it takes more grit to forgive them for having witnessed your own.” Jessamyn West

“Make bold choices and make mistakes. It’s all those things that add up to the person you become.” Angelina Jolie

What are your wise words on making mistakes?

Where are You Going?

We just celebrated Easter, and we’re in the middle of celebrating Passover, and we’re at the beginning of a new month.  Can you believe one quarter is already done in 2015?  April is known as the month of Easter and taxes, it’s a time of reflection and hope.  Taxes remind us what happened over the past year, things that were good, things that challenged us and things that will affect what we do in the future.  While Easter reminds us that we’ve got a future, whether because of spring and the promise of new life, or because of your spiritual beliefs.  Both looking to the past and looking to the future is important, as is living in the present.

When we talk about the past it gives us a chance to remember, to plan, and for some of us, to deal with our demons.  For just about all of us the past shapes our present and future, most of us can’t enter a hypothetical witness protection program and just drop everything that we used to be and like.   But if all we do is live in the past we’re missing out on the present.   We can certainly do things in the present to change the course we’re on so that our past doesn’t remain our present or become our future.  But as I said on the Life and Spirituality blog today, we have to make a conscious choice to create a new future by doing things different in the present.  When we’re given a second chance, a chance to do things differently, if we don’t take it we’re choosing to continue living our past rather than our future.

What ultimately matters in life is whether you’re able to look back on your life on your deathbed and know that while you made plenty of mistakes, you didn’t let the past hold you back, but rather moved on into the future day by day, knowing that better things were waiting.  No life is perfect, no one is able to say they’re 100% proud of every minute of every day, but when we’re invested in making today a better day and tomorrow a better reality for our future generations the past doesn’t matter as much, it’s the future that counts.

“It isn’t where you came from, its where you’re going that counts.” Ella Fitzgerald

Fools, Failures and Fulfillment

One of my favorite leaders was Nelson Mandela. He’s a man who overcame great odds, never let his past hold him back but never shied away from the reality of his past, and he was someone who had a great vision that many people could identify with and supported, which brought him to world fame and helped make South Africa a great nation. One of the other leaders I admire, Robin Sharma, shared this about Nelson Mandela:

“I heard Mr. Mandela only became Nelson Mandela during his years in prison. In other words, it was the solitude, degradation, devastation and inhumanity of that time in confinement that made him who he became.”

Just about every day we mess up in some ways. Sometimes it’s unintentional, sometimes we do it intentionally, and other times we know that the results probably won’t be what we want them to be but we do it anyway. I think back to my early school years and what today was, April Fool’s Day. It’s a day that makes myself, and many others, shudder with the memories. No one really likes being played for a fool.

I don’t know many people who are proud to say that the lowest-of-low moment was what got them to the success they have today. But as leaders we need to learn from those moments. We need to learn from the mistakes, from the failures, and sometimes we need to be able to laugh it off. Every moment of our leadership can’t be toe to the line. It would be awful boring awful quick, and not many people like to work with or buy from those who are boring, miserable or bland. Instead we need to remember that we’re alive, that today is another day to be thankful and celebrate. Stand strong because you have overcome the past, yes, but even more so let it be the motivation you need to lead and live life fully and passionately.

Going For Genius

One of my favorite things about working as a life and business coach and consultant is the opportunity to meet thousands of interesting people, people who have no clue how much potential is just waiting inside them to be unleashed. Unfortunately, as just about any coach or consultant will tell you, there are people who are all talk and no action: these people are those who say they want to grow, want to fulfill their potential and just don’t back it up.

I can understand the hesitance, really I can. It’s a lot of work, takes time and definitely will push you in many ways you never wanted to be pushed. Life can have scary moments, and when you become greater you do take on more responsibilities, in addition to the increased opportunities you’ll have.

We can spend weeks on the negatives and the fears and what’s holding you back. And it is important to take time to seriously go through them because if you don’t it can, and probably will, trip you up again in the future. But that’s not the topic I want to address today, because there are too many people that get stuck going through the crap. Instead I want to focus on the potential.

We can focus all you want on the change aspect of things: how many times have you heard “you have to change to get what you want,” right?  When in fact what we should be focusing on is what we get by changing, by choosing to unleash our potential, by choosing to be all we can be, by choosing to live our purpose.  So don’t choose to change this week, choose to finally embrace all that you’ve hoped for and dreamed of.

“Why would you want your genius unleashed? Because it fulfills you. It enriches and enhances your life. It gives meaning, depth, and brilliance to the ordinary, transforming you and your life into extraordinary.” Soleira Green

The Real Goal of Resolutions

You may be sick of hearing things like “new year new you” and “resolutions.” I totally understand. I’m not really one to make resolutions, but I do like seeing the year as a fresh start for a year of new possibilities. We talk about the year like it’s really new, when it really isn’t. We’re just one more year, one more month, one more day into our personal journey. Starting from scratch isn’t technically possible, even when you’re in witness protection all of your memories, beliefs and hurts go with you, despite the fact that you’re a completely new person on paper. You can start a new job but you’re still left with the memories and lessons from the last one. You can enter a new relationship but you’ll never fully forget the person/people that you were with before.

If you’re struggling to make a resolution or simply make change in your life maybe it’s because you’re looking at it wrong. Turning over a new leaf, starting over, starting fresh, letting go, are about more than just a fresh start, they’re really about a better/different ending. The #1 reason people change is because they want a different ending to the story than what’s currently being written by their actions and choices. It’s not fun to start over or make change, but if that’s the choice vs ending up where you’re heading, a course correction probably looks pretty good.

As you look forward into this new year consider your personal hourglass sands of time: you can’t turn it over and get more time, you’ve only got whatever time is left. You can continue heading in the direction you’re going in or you can choose to take things in a different direction with a different end result. Change isn’t about the now, it’s about the end result.

“You cannot go back and make a new beginning, but today you can make a new ending.” Darren Hardy

Your Happiness Perspective

One of the greatest challenges we all face is seeing our own value. Some of us do a lot of boasting and act all self-important, but all too often we’re unaware of exactly how awesome we are. It’s partly because we are with ourselves all the time and we just get used to who we are. It’s also because we get told by others how capable or incapable we are, and if we hear it often enough we start to believe it, whether it’s true or not. A third, and unfortunately too often true, reason would be that we simply aren’t aware of how much potential we have. It’s all too easy to just get wrapped up in life the way it is and not think about changing things. Life is complicated and challenging enough without bringing in more changes than we already have to deal with.

But it’s exactly when we choose not to pursue our potential that we choose to make our lives miserable, or at least a shadow of what it could be. I can do tons of things for you but ultimately it’s up to you to choose the things that will satisfy you, make you happy and fulfill you. I can’t force you to be happy or satisfied with life, that can only be decided and felt by you. I may get satisfaction from helping you or completing a job for you, but I can’t make you experience the same thing. So what does that mean? It really means that we have to be comfortable with ourselves enough to accept who we really are and what we need from life. It means accepting in all brutal honesty who we are, warts and all.

Perspective is a funny thing; the world looks much different when you sit on the floor, stand, or fly through the sky. Not sure? Just a simple exercise of walking through a park or your yard and then sitting on the ground can show you exactly what I mean.  Sitting the world looks much bigger than it does when you stand. But, just like optical illusions, the world isn’t really any bigger when you’re sitting, standing or flying, it’s all the same size, it just seems different because you’ve got a different perspective on it.

So if you’re feeling lost this week, ask someone else what they see as your potential. I honestly believe that we’re all world changers deep inside, some of us are just waiting to be released, or unleashed, on the world. If you can’t see your own potential initially that’s OK, don’t be afraid to reach out to a coach or someone who can give you a positive perspective (don’t bother chatting with those who don’t like you, they’ll just convince you that you don’t have potential to find). It’s not a bad thing to ask for help if you can’t see your own value.

“A man cannot be made comfortable without his own approval.” Barbara Walters

The Real You

There comes a time that we have to make the decision if we’re the person we want to be and if not what we’re going to do about it.   Maybe you’re there.  Maybe you are tired of the life you have.  Maybe you like your life but you want more.   Maybe things have never seemed right for you.  Maybe you’re tired of being reminded about and dragged through your past.  Whatever the reason you’ve reached this point you’re wondering how you got here and how soon you can get to where you want to be.  This is actually a good thing, because rather than fighting (or continuing to fight) the feelings you’re ready to make changes in your life.  When you’ve reached this point you’re open to what it will take to change your life to make it a life you’re happy with.  Maybe it will be easy and maybe it won’t, but you won’t know until you get going.

Often we get stuck in what we know the past to be.  Why? Because it’s familiar and we know how it works; there are few surprises.  Of course it probably won’t get much better than it is.  So we’re stuck with the familiar and what we have until we just can’t take it anymore.  Sometimes little doubts and lies sneak into our brains and we wonder if this is really all there is and it will just be too much work to separate from our past or get to the future we desire.

What I do know is that your past isn’t an indication or indicator of what your future has to be.  Your future will be what you make of it.  If you don’t change things they will remain as they are.  If you make bad choices things will probably go poorly.  If you make good choices you’ll end up close to, where or better than where you wanted to be.   Yes, it will take some work to get past the past and heading to your future, but very little that is really worth it is effortless.

“A man, as a general rule, owes very little to what he is born with – a man is what he makes of himself.”  Alexander Graham Bell

Lessons from the Past

“We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.”  George Washington

Washington was living at a pivotal time in the history of the USA.  He was there for the war and the winning, and the establishment of the new government.  He certainly had plenty that he could look back on and be distracted by, as could Lincoln many years later.  But Washington knew a secret of success that many miss: success can only be realized by moving forward.  But let’s back up for a moment.

I believe it’s really, really important to look back occasionally.  I’m not talking about checking to see how close the creditors and haters are, I’m talking about being able to stop and take in what has gone on in your life.  We’ve all done, said and been things that we’re not proud of and some things we’re really happy about too.  It’s important to take a look at those not so good times and learn from them.  You’ve heard countless stories of companies or people who have transformed their lives from a really bad place and gotten it to somewhere good and have made a point of using the rest of their lives to help others who are in the shoes they used to be in.  And this is a really good thing, it’s awesome to hear the stories of people who transform their lives and use the experiences of their past to help others.

But there are some people who only look back or never look forward from their past.  These are the people who are bitter about the lot life has handed to them.  These people are miserable to be around and you always try to get away from them as quick as possible. They’re the ones who bring up the stuff you’ve done in the past again and again. These people have not only paid for the past as we all do but paying for it again and again and again.

So it’s up to each of us to choose to look back, gather the lessons and firmly turn forward to put what we have learned into practice.  You’ve got a past, why not put it to good use or let it go?