Posts tagged life

Creativity: The Successful Entrepreneur’s Secret Weapon

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Your creative powers are infinite. Yup…think about it.  You come from the same source as all of nature around you.  Look at fruit trees.  How do you think those fruit push themselves up the trunk, through the branches and then hang themselves like beautiful ornaments in just the right place?  Well we don’t really know how it works, but we know it’s creation.

You cannot not create.  I know…many of you just don’t feel creative.  Maybe your definition of “creative” has been too narrow.  Creativity isn’t a gift given only to artists, sculptors, musicians, or dancers.   It’s something you do naturally.  Question is…what are YOU creating?  You are always creating with your thoughts.  Every product, every service in the world started first in someone’s mind.  So “mind your mind” and direct your thoughts to things you really want to create…like abundance and good service and joy.    

You are absolutely unique.  There is no one quite like you.  So the way you look at the world, through your eyes, your mind is different than any one else’s.  Successful entrepreneurs embrace this uniqueness.  Even though there are many people who cut and style hair, each does it in their own way –haven’t you had a favorite hairdresser or barber who just always got it “right”?

So don’t waste time worrying that you have nothing new to offer.  You do.  Yourself.  Discover what it is that you enjoy about yourself and incorporate those qualities into your business.  When you do, you’ll love your work and your customers and clients will love you.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist has written extensively on the topic of creative flow.  He says when we are engaged in an almost effortless yet highly focused activity we experience “flow.”  Here are the characteristics of being in “flow”:               
1.  Completely involved in what we are doing – focused, concentrated.
2.  A sense of ecstasy – of being outside everyday reality.
3.  Great inner clarity – knowing what needs to be done, and how well we are doing.
4.  Knowing that the activity is doable – that skills are adequate to the task.
5.  A sense of serenity – no worries about oneself, and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego.
6.  Timelessness – thoroughly focused on the present,  time seems to pass by in minutes.
7.  Intrinsic motivation – whatever produces flow becomes its own reward.

When have you felt that?  Whatever you were doing at the time, do more of that!  I celebrate and honor your creativity. Don’t hide it from the world…let it shine.

Be Yourself: Imitation is Suicide

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It’s one thing to seek out people who are ahead of you in achieving something you want.  For example, if you want to reach a six figure income, working from home, it makes sense to find someone who has done that and to learn from them the systems they used.  That’s smart. But what I see so many of my clients do is compare themselves to others and declare that they come up short. 

I love Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings. He lived in the 1800’s and was a philosopher and essayist from Boston.  In his essay, “Self-Reliance”, he says “there is a time in every (wo)man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.”  I believe he was not speaking literally here about farming…but rather telling us to “till” the life and gifts given us in order to tap into that endless good.

He also says “trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.  Accept the place the divine providence has found for you” and… “nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind.”

A coach once gave me some great advice that I embraced.  She said “flaunt your quirks.”  The quirkier the better.  What this means is that all the qualities and characteristics that make you unique are part of your essential, true self.  And when you are being true to yourself you are attractive to others.  You will attract just the right people into your personal and business world.  Think of someone who you consider successful.  Can you name some of their “quirks?”  Chances are you can.

Being authentic doesn’t happen in one fell swoop.  It happens daily in the choices you make – if a decision is based on what you imagine society thinks you “should do” or when you make a choice based on what you think will impress someone else…that’s probably not authentic.

When you have defined what’s important to you –where it is important to expend your time and energy on this planet –and you make your choices guided by that…you’re being authentic.

Learn from others.  Sure.  Take what you like from them and integrate it into who you are.  Don’t imitate…that makes your soul wither…let your unique spirit shine in the world!

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

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Why am I talking about love in the context of business?  And no, I don’t mean a passionate office romance.  I’m talking about the fact that loving my clients has been a key to success in my business.  It hit me several years ago when someone asked me the secret to my success…without thinking…I said “I love my clients and they know it”…and then I felt a bit embarrassed, thinking that I didn’t sound very “business-like.”

Now, let’s clarify what I mean by “love.”  That little four letter word has tons of different meanings in the English language.  For the purpose of today’s article, let’s go with “affectionate concern for the well-being of others” and “strong predilection, enthusiasm, or liking for anything.”

If you want to be successful, you have to genuinely care about others. When I was a teen, I read the famous 1936 book by Dale Carnegie -“How to Win Friends and Influence People.”  When you’re a teen, you REALLY want to win friends.  It resonated with me and I immediately began to implement the principles he outlined.

Here’s what he said about getting people to like you:

Six Ways to Get People to Like You.

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Sound simplistic?  Believe me it’s not.  Watch how people talk to each other today and see if you can find people who do this well.  Better yet, start practicing yourself.  The practice of being curious about others (not nosy… in a way to dig up their “dirt”) but rather a genuine curiosity about what makes them tick, what they long for, what are they proud of…combined with a love and enthusiasm for the service or product you provide…is to me, the most powerful business “secret” there is.

Start practicing this with the very next person you meet.  If it’s a brief encounter, perhaps at the market with a clerk –you can at least make eye contact, smile and say thank you.  If you have more time, try asking a question that gets a person talking about one of their interests and then… LISTEN.  This item four of Carnegie’s list, “be a good listener,” is an area in which most people need practice and reflection.

Through all the training I’ve invested in and received in coaching and ministry, I’ve had the gift of being listened to deeply and to in turn, give the gift of listening deeply to others.  What do I mean by listening deeply?  I mean giving them your FULL attention –when you’re in person with them –looking at them, staying focused on their words AND the tone beneath the words.  Keeping your mouth closed –both figuratively and literally –so many people are just chomping at the bit to respond with advice or a “that happened to me too story” or to finish the sentence with words that they think the talker is going to say.  Allowing them to completely finish what they were telling you and then to acknowledge what they’ve said –that’s honoring them and that’s a rare gift.

You can accomplish the same things on the phone –the difference is –you’re not looking at them. I often close my eyes when listening to a client on the phone –it helps me stay focused and allows me to really hear what’s going on beneath the words –whether there is genuine excitement in what they are saying, or some trepidation that needs to be addressed and supported…or perhaps resignation –it just might be time to let go of a direction that just isn’t right.

So, what’s love got to do with it?  Everything.  Start loving your clients/customers today and see what happens!

What is Noble Purpose?

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Noble Purpose is listening for the inner call to use your unique gifts to serve others.

Noble Purpose is a matter of the heart.  It is about your heart opening and feeling intimately united with others.  James Hillman in the Soul’s Code gives us the “acorn theory”.  An acorn must grow into an oak tree –it cannot be a pine or a palm.  Each life is formed by a particular image, an image that is the essence of life and calls it to a destiny, just as the mighty oak’s destiny is written in the tiny acorn.

Some of you might not have connected with it yet.
Some of you know what it is but have trouble living it
Some of you are living it but might want to live it even more fully.

But NONE of you need to CHANGE or be someone you are not.  There is nothing to change; there is only the return to your deepest, Essential Self. 

What throws you off track from living your Noble Purpose?

We get in our own way when we think our purpose has to be BIG, or unique – it is not always a call to the extraordinary, though it will keep stretching you.  More often than not it is the embrace of the ordinary, doing what makes you feel simply satisfied and good.
 
Your habits and beliefs can stop you although they don’t have to.  Can you believe “there is no limitation outside of our own ignorance, and since we can ALL conceive of a greater good than we have so far experienced, we all have the ability to transcend previous experiences and rise triumphant above them; but we shall never triumph over them while we persist in going through the old mental reactions.” (Ernest Holmes)

Are your beliefs supporting your noble purpose?  If not, choose a belief that is not supporting you and write out an opposite belief that feels better to you.  As the old thought arises, don’t feed it –just replace it with the new belief.  It does not matter how much patience it takes:  persevere and be patient with yourself until you can see that each succeeding month your consciousness is evolving into a higher place that supports you. 

Take time to get quiet and listen to the still, small voice within.  Meditate and use visioning to ask how to use your unique gifts to serve others.  Uncovering your inner purpose may look formidable.  It is not.  This call to serve is very familiar –even obvious.  It’s an aspect of your life you’ve known and danced with since childhood, a completely original expression of your unique self.

What is at the center of your life?  Carefully examine where you spend your attention, your time.  Look at your appointment book, your daily schedule.  These things, these meetings, and errands–this is where you dedicate your precious days, hours, moments.  This is what receives your care and attention –and, by definition, your love.  Is this what you wish to love?  Are these the people and situations you hope will receive the gift of your life? 

If you do not feel connected to your Noble Purpose right now –relax.  You don’t have to agonize over it – your Noble Purpose is already a creative force within you –to fulfill it you might just need to get out of the way!

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