Through many Personal Development programs we are introduced to the concept of a Guiding Light, North Star, or as Napoleon Hill writes in Think and Grow Rich, a Definite Purpose. For many, Guiding Light is an iconic daytime drama that brought us such stars as Ian Ziering, Christopher Walken, Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, JoBeth Williams, and Kevin Bacon, to name a few.
Your Guiding Light is not a goal, something you have achieved, or the destination of your journey. It is a guiding principle to live by to attain those goals, create those achievements, and is the basis of the journey one chooses.
Basically, your Guiding Light is the foundation of everything you do to achieve and create success. Can one’s Guiding Light change? Yes. That is part of the alignment and realignment one does along their journey and as one enriches their personal development.
When I began my journey, like many, I struggled with my Guiding Light. Immediately I felt I must have one in order to be successful. I had always been attracted to the quote, “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” from the iconic musical, Cabaret. Other idioms such as the Golden Rule, “Just Do It,” and “Think Differently” were also on my list.
Despite proclaiming this as my Guiding Light and writing it down, it seemed shallow. Shortly thereafter, I was in New York and heard the line, “The only Latter Day that matters is tomorrow,” from The Book of Mormon. I remember thinking, “There it is. Add the two together and I have my real guiding principle.” For the next two years, my Guiding Light was, “The only Latter Day that matters is tomorrow, and tomorrow belongs to me.” This told me that whatever I did today determines the quality of my tomorrow.
Since the first of the year I’ve been expanding my Personal Development, enriching it with podcasts and re-reading books such as Think and Grow Rich.
The more I read, the more I listened, the more I studied; I began to realize that my Guiding Light was out of alignment. The emphasis was on tomorrow. What about today? In a moment of true inspiration I remembered what Professor Harold Hill said in The Music Man, “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to make today worth remembering.”
And there it was, my Guiding Light; “Make today worth remembering.”
Do you have a Guiding Light?
A phenomenon sweeping the globe is The Ice Bucket Challenge. Dumping cold ice water over one’s head is an activity gone viral to raise awareness and money for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / Lou Gehrig’s disease). Let’s take the challenge and apply it to our lives and our business.
Daily, we are encouraged to do visualization – where you focus on your goals. Find a quiet place where you can visualize yourself taking the challenge.
Open your eyes. Still freezing wet and in shock, how does the world look to you now? In that spontaneous second what was your first thought? What is different based on how you reacted to the jolt of ice water?
Now visualize if you applied that jolt to your life and/or to your career. How would you react? What would be different? It does not matter if you are the highest income earner or someone still struggling, nor does it matter if you apply this to your career or your personal life; such a jolt instantly changes one’s perspective. You experience something you probably have never experienced before.
Are you willing to take The Ice Bucket Challenge? Once you take the challenge, challenge three other people. That’s the rule of the game! That’s how you build momentum.
21 days to form a habit? Most attribute that theory to a physician who worked with amputees suffering a loss of limb. He theorizes it took 21 days to get accustomed to the loss. Rhetorically, isn’t creating a habit of drinking more water different than adapting to losing your leg?
Many people see habits as routine. Habits are automatic. Habits are decisions we make without even thinking.
New Year’s Resolutions have an 8% success rate and 21 days may seem more like a monumental task. So, how does one overcome that obstacle and create positive change? The secret is in developing mini-habits. Rather than feeling guilty not achieving your goal, break down that goal into attainable results.
I learned of mini-habits from Stephen Guise. The technique comes from Tinkertoys, a creativity book. It is the opposite of an idea you are stuck on. The more ridiculous, the more successful you become.
You may want to create an exercise regimen. Going for gusto of 30 minutes to an hour a day, joining a gym, and hitting it hard often ends in disaster. What if you began by just doing one push-up?
The One Push-up Challenge: As absurd as it sounds, it works. When you get out of bed, do just one push-up. What you find is while you are in the position doing the one push-up you find it easier to do 2, 3, 4, or 5. The mini-habit is born. Habits are built from willpower, not motivation. The reason we fail at creating new habits is we try to do too much at once. It requires more willpower, not increased motivation.
To create a mini-habit, choose a desired change and make it “stupid small.” Say your mini-habit out loud. If it is so small it sounds stupid, then you are on your way. Some mini-habits may include meditation for one minute, one push-up, read two pages daily, walk 100 steps, drink one glass of water, etc.
Choose 3 mini-habits to begin. Incorporate them into one of your 10-minute task. Write down your mini-habit. Check it off daily so you can visualize your progress. When you remove the pressure and expectations, you allow yourself to change.
My mini-habits are: meditate for one minute, read two pages from a book, and drinking one glass of water each morning before coffee.
What mini-habits are you starting?
Have you realized that this very moment is part of your story? There is no right or wrong answers, it is not perfect, but is a blank canvas to use as you please.
You have to live each moment consciously, design your own truth, and share it with others. It’s a process whereby you realize your individuality and can only share it once you have created it.
Consider these six things to love about your life:
1. Spend time on your personal growth and goals.
Remember, “You can like the life you’re living and you can live the life you like.” (Chicago)
I have learned that obstacles are opportunities and instead of giving up, one needs to course correct. The key ingredient is attitude. The Universe understands and senses our vibration. So, how is that vibration manifested? Attitude. I came across a Baker’s Dozen of tips that lead to a strong, positive attitude when times get tough.
1. What is, is. Buddha teaches that it is our resistance to ‘what is’ that causes our suffering. The answer is to take action and change the situation. If you cannot change, you have two options. You can accept it and move on, or be miserable and throw a pity-party.
2. It’s only a problem if you think it’s a problem. Often we are our own worst enemy. Our perspective dictates if we see something as a problem or if we see an opportunity to learn and grow.
3. If you want things to change, you must start with yourself. Our reality is a reflection of the environment we create. In order to change our circumstances, we must first change our perspective, which changes our reaction.
4. There is no such thing as failure. We should eliminate the word ‘failure’ from our vocabulary. Michael Jordan, arguably one of the best basketball players ever, once said, “I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” From our perceived failures we can learn how to improve.
5. If you don’t accomplish what you desire, it just means something better is ahead. The Universe is in-tune with what we seek to create. We must have faith that everything happens the way it’s supposed to.
6. Appreciate the present; this moment never comes again. This moment is a gift; that is why it is called “the present.” Give gratitude for the gift.
7. Let go of desire. Most people live “attached.” When you attach to an outcome or desire and don’t achieve, emotions become negative. Focus on detaching. When your emotions are neutral, you are happy with whatever the outcome may be.
8. Understand and be grateful for your fears. Fear is powerful. It is an illusion or manifestation of what we envision could happen. We can learn a great deal from fear and overcoming fear is a win; it just takes practice.
9. Allow yourself to experience joy. Gratitude is the key. Have fun and be grateful for the fun you have. Don’t pursue happiness; create happiness.
10. Don’t compare yourself to others. We are unique, an original. Celebrate your uniqueness and embrace your originality.
11. You are not a victim, so get out of your own way. You are only a “victim” of your own thoughts, words, and actions. No one “does” something to you. You are the creator of your own experience. If it is to be, it is up to me.
12. Things change. Many rely on “And this too shall pass” as their mantra. Instead, subscribe to Gandhi’s philosophy, “Be the change.”
13. Anything can happen. Rather than believing “stuff happens,” believe “miracles happen.” Mary Poppins teaches, “Anything can happen if you let it. If you reach for the stars, all you get are the stars. But if you reach for the heavens, you get the stars thrown in for free.”
What tip can you share when things get tough?
As a kid, I would take great pleasure in casting a stone across a pond and seeing how many “jumps” I could get and how much of a ripple I could create. I could spend hours casting and counting. There seemed to be no greater pleasure than getting one extra jump on my next throw.
Mother Teresa taught that one person cannot change the world, but much like a kid casting that stone, you can create many ripples. As I continue to be a student of Personal Development, I am constantly reminded that creating that ripple is far more powerful.
There were times in my not-too-distant-past when my business would stagnate or conflict would come into my life and I would “freak.” Rather than creating a ripple with a single stone, I would opt to do a cannonball off the cliff.
Anyone who has ever cannonballed knows that it can be quite painful and dangerous. The same is true in life. When you jump in just to make an impact, unforeseen consequences may follow. My mantra is, “slow, simple, and calm.” Isn’t that how you create the ripple with the stone? You take aim and gently and calmly toss the stone across the waters. As the stone jumps, a new ripple begins. As those ripples expand, soon they meet and intertwine. Eventually, the ripple is so large and massive; it may be beyond what the eye can see.
This is what I am learning. I gently let go and allow the Universe to do what it does best –allowing those ripples to grow unobstructed. When that happens, the effect I caused is still at the center and I can still visually see the results of my efforts. In life, that is the center of my Universe.
To learn more about my Personal Development program, reach back to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s to one incredible ripple effect!
Recently, while watching a movie about bullying and high school fanatics, I began thinking about my time in high school and the work I am doing today with our leadership and personal empowerment curriculum. Then, I saw the following post:
Things I Never Learned In High School:
I began thinking how my life would have been different had I been a student of personal development in high school. When I am speaking to people, especially educators about our curriculum, I mention that it is ideal for any student who is making a transition; whether from middle school to high school, high school to college, or college to the adult world. The power of the curriculum is in how we learn to stay in alignment with our core beliefs. When that happens, success is ours and the law of attraction is in our favor.
I never ask “what if,” but rather ask “what is to come?” I do know this. If I had studied personal development during my middle school and high school years as I do today, then those days would have been different. I would have had a better grasp on how to make decisions rather than sulking because I had lost a parent. I would have embraced my passion rather than feeling embarrassed. I would have acknowledged that a bold new world existed and that world was part of my journey and my destination.
Today, and I so wish then, I endorse two amazing principles of life: Believe and Be Happy.
When faced with a potential life altering decision, digging down deep for the answer may not be enough.
Armed with professional opinions and advice, many rely on safe decisions. What if the best decision is the path less traveled? For me, I knew the safe decision was not the right decision. I had the courage to make that decision, but found I did not have the tools to effectively cope.
Late in 2010, I decided to focus on my physical health. I joined a gym and had a routine check-up. The doctors discovered I have a Bicuspid Aortic Valve, a congenital heart condition that should be monitored and treated early in life, and an aneurysm. For me, treatment was over 40 years overdue. I was told I was facing an aorta replacement and looking at less than 2 years to live. A lifestyle change could improve my longevity. Knowing my Dad died of this when I was a kid, fear became a factor.
The lifestyle change was easy, but I wanted to intellectually and emotionally be wise. I did my research and learned that stem-cell procedures were being developed in South Africa and Europe. In the US, that was currently not an option. Yet, that option spoke to me. I wanted more information and self-empowering tools.
Two years after my diagnosis, my consulting gig was ending. I began looking for a new path. That search led me to aligning with my passions and focusing on my personal development. Call it the “law of attraction,” but my current alignment was having me look at me in a way I've never done before. It was not enough to make decisions; more so, how to effectively place them into action and have continuous, effective growth with my decisions.
Today, I monitor my progress with regular checkups, moderate exercise, and a healthy lifestyle. Through BFE, I am gaining more insight and confidence. I am recognizing that my actions can lead to potential breakthroughs, resulting in a higher quality of life for me and others. This validates and enriches my journey.
We know that teachers have one of the hardest and one of the most inspiring jobs today. With media such a force in today's world, we turn to media to find a few Twisted Truths About Teaching!
As The World Turns, teachers teach The Young and The Restless. Some days are like the Wheel of Fortune, and others, Survivor. The curriculum serves as The Guiding Light, but often in need of an Extreme Makeover. For many, the Fear Factor are those Desperate Housewives who want All My Children in special programs. Today's teachers are The Voice and often asked to do the work of Two and a Half Men. And, around The Office discipline is frequently disguised as Law & Order or Deal or No Deal. The Big Bang Theory is our Modern Family is The New Normal. Parks and Recreation is how we must Go On. Dealing with Criminal Minds, a Person of Interest, and Breaking Bad is How I Met Your Mother. For teachers, there is no Deception; these are the Days of Our Lives. From the moment they say, "Good Morning, America," we know they are the real American Idol!
bart is a nationally known, sought-after motivational speaker, author, blogger, personal coach, trainer, entrepreneur, and major advocate of the theatre community.
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