Crawl, Walk, Run Fly, Life on purpose process

One of the principles I operate from in my coaching practice is that you can only coach people where they’re at. So, it’s important to find out where people are in their life so we’ll know where to start with the coaching. For example, if I’m coaching someone in their life purpose I have them fill out a short questionnaire which includes the following “life purpose scale:”

___ I have no idea what my purpose in life is, not a clue.
___ I have a vague idea what my life purpose might be but I need to be much clearer.
___ I have a fairly good idea what my life purpose is.
___ I am clear what my life purpose is but I’m not living true to it.
___ I am certain of my life purpose and about 25% of the time I’m living true to it.
___ I am certain of my life purpose and about 50% of the time I’m living true to it.
___ I am certain of my life purpose and about 75% of the time I’m living true to it.
___ I am certain of my life purpose and I’m living true to it 100% of the time.
___ I don’t appear to fit anywhere on the scale. Please explain:

It’s easy to see that it would be difficult to coach somebody in living true to their life purpose at the 75% level if where they are on the scale is that they haven’t a clue what their life purpose is.

I have recently seen a new facet of this coaching principle in operation. I call it the “crawl, walk, run, fly” principle. As children, we all had to learn how to crawl before we could walk, then run and eventually fly, as in fly or soar through life. Sometimes, people want to skip one or more steps, but this doesn’t work too well.

But in real life what does crawling, walking, running and flying look like? Well, the crawling stage is the stage in which we handle our basic survival needs; things like food, clothing, shelter, companionship, etc. It’s the stage where we building a basic foundation of financial integrity. I believe it was Mother Teresa who said that people can’t spend much time contemplating about the state of their soul on an empty stomach, or something like that. We have to learn how to handle these basics needs before we can go to the next step which is working on our wants and desires.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having wants and desires. After all, most of us do. They are the spice of life. However, if you spend all your time focused on your wants and desires without handling your basic survival needs, you’ll run into trouble.

The same is true if you ignore your wants and desires and try to go straight to flying which I equate as the level of self-actualization or enlightenment. This doesn’t mean that every whim, no matter how small or fleeting of thought, needs to be materialized before moving on. No, just the basic wants and desires. Those that are really important to us.

vision

 

In the summer of 1997, after years of longing and dreaming, I fulfilled on a heart’s desire of mine when I took a trip around America in an RV with my dog, Maggie McGee.  The seed of this dream began while I was in high school after reading John Steinbeck’s, Travels with Charlie.  It was also the beginning of my dream to become a professional writer.

But in 1997 as the dream trip approached, I realized that fulfilling on this 30-year dream wasn’t a large enough context for the journey.  What could I do out there that would keep my interest?  The illusion was that I’d meet a lot of strange and wonderful people, but in my hear,t I knew my tendency to be reclusive might win out and I’d travel for weeks without ever meeting or talking to anyone.

So, I created the Vision 2000 Tour.  With the New Millennium less than 3 years away, this auspicious date was already getting a fair amount of press and in reading about the turn of the century and the Millennium it had started me wondering about something that seemed to be missing to me.  Vision.

Did our country, America, the land of the free and the brave, have a vision for ourselves as we sailed into the 21st Century?  If we did, what was it?  I certainly hadn’t heard about it.  And if we didn’t have a clear vision, then what might it be?  What could “We, the People…” create?

Those simple questions became the context of the Vision 2000 Tour. And boy, what a powerful context for a journey across America.  I wish I could report that I met with thousands of people but that would be a lie.  I doubt I even met with a hundred.  More like several dozen.  But what came out of those conversations was surprising as well as surprisingly consistent.

The response to the question of whether America had a collective vision or not was a resounding NO!  A few people felt we had once had a vision but that had been many years ago.  A fair number of people reminisced about the Kennedy Years and the race to the moon, pointing out that we’d had no real vision or mission since then.  That’s close to 30 years!

In some of the conversations, I brought up the idea of an “Inherited Vision,” as being a vision that’s not based in possibility but from fear and survival instead.  I asked people if they felt that America had such a vision — something that we’d all been born into, that for the most part wasn’t distinguished but which operated quietly in the background of our culture.

Again, the responses were surprisingly consistent.  “Yes, we have an Inherited Vision and it’s who can collect the most stuff before they die,” was the general consensus.  Our Inherited Vision is one based in materialism and acquisition of stuff; the “keeping up with the Jones” mentality.

But perhaps the most interesting responses of all, and again one with an amazing amount of consistency came from the question, “If we don’t have a collective vision, what could it be?”

Unity.  That one word would best sum up the vast majority of the responses.  Oh, people said it in many different ways, but in almost every case, unity was a predominant theme.

Often the thinking went like this. “America is known as the melting pot of the world.  Who better to bring the world together as one.  If we Americans with all our differences and diversity can come together as one, what a message that would send to the rest of the world.  We certainly wouldn’t need to worry about being the “world’s policeman” if we all really got that we’re all connected.”

This is the message I received from the grassroots of America.  And I admit the sampling was far from scientific, at least not yet.  The new Millennium is upon us but its effect will still be felt for years.  So, the Vision 2000 Tour continues.

I ask those of you reading this to respond to the same questions:

1. Does America have a clear collective vision for the 21st Century?

2. If so, what is it? 

3. If we don’t, do you feel we have an “Inherited Vision” that is quietly shaping our lives in the background?  What is it?

4. And what could be the created collective vision of America?  What would we be willing to stand for in the world and to the world?

5. And a new question:  What might be the collective created vision of the world.  What are we willing to stand for and present to the rest of the Universe?

Happiness, Life, Life on Purpose

I find it interesting that although the United States is considered by many to be the most prosperous country in the world and the most prosperous society in history, so many of us are unhappy. It has also been my observation that an increasing number of us are awakening to this fact, and are searching for ways to be happier.

Of course, there are volumes written about this subject, so this top ten list isn’t intended to be the final word on the subject. But, taking some of these suggestions to heart and putting them into action will move you well down the road to inner happiness.

Stop

In an interview I once conducted with small business guru Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth Revisited, I asked him what one key step or strategy would he give to listeners to put into place in their businesses that would make the biggest difference. He summarized it in one word — stop! Stop and take the time to really think through what you’re doing.

The advice is just as sound in our personal lives. Most of our lives are simply running out of control. It’s like we have our ‘pedal to the metal’, and we don’t know how to take our foot off, or perhaps we’re afraid of what will happen if we do.

I’m more concerned about what will happen if we don’t. Life isn’t a straight path of a drag race. It has plenty of twists and turns, some of them sharp hairpins. Imagine trying to drive a car along a twisty mountain road without ever taking your foot off of the gas — a sure set up for disaster. The same is true in life. So, start getting access to a greater degree of inner happiness by stopping first. Sounds paradoxical? Maybe, but it’s a vital first step.

What if you set your alarm to awaken just 15 minutes earlier but instead of jumping out of bed, you simply propped yourself up in bed and laid there quietly contemplating your day and how it’s the opportunity to live and express your purpose in each moment and with each action. What if you set your intention to be more awake and aware for the rest of the day, and to check in with your inner guidance and to allow Universal Love to shape your day? Try it and see if it doesn’t add a depth of happiness and contentment to your life.

What is Inner Happiness?

One of the most important reasons to stop the frenetic pace of your life for a while is so you can begin to answer the question, “What is inner happiness?” Once you’ve spent a bit of time on that one, go on to these questions:

  • What will bring me inner happiness?
  • How will I know when I’ve experienced a new level of inner happiness?
  • How will it look and feel — what will be happening or not happening in my life?
  • Where would I want to experience more inner happiness? At work? At home? With my family and friends?

These are all useful “purposeful pondering” questions that you can start your day with as you spend just 15 minutes exploring these, and then continue to ask for answers as you go about your day. If you want a little more structure and support, you can create a reminder for yourself. For example, every time you see the color purple, ask yourself the pondering question for the day. Or, whenever you hear the phone ring or set your wristwatch timer to go off every hour. Such questions can powerfully shape your day, so ask away.

Shift Your Attitude to One of “Deservability”

This is a new word that a participant in one of my workshops coined. I like what happens from combining ‘deserve’ with ‘ability.’ We are all able to shift our attitude to one of deserving happiness. And if you aren’t, then there may be some deep-seated emotional blocks that need to be addressed through counseling or some other channels. This step is summarized in one of my favorite sayings, “Suffering is optional.” You deserve to be happy.

You might move this forward by asking yourself, “If I did deserve to be happy, what would it be like? Who would I need to be to be someone that is happy? What would I be doing that is a natural expression of being happy? What could I eliminate from my life that would result in a deeper sense of happiness for my life?

Be willing to be surprised by the answers that come to you, and decide to act upon the ones that call most strongly to you.

Handle Life’s Details Once and for All

The details I’m referring to are those basic needs that we all have — food, clothing, shelter, love, etc. Is it possible to have inner peace while your outer life is in turmoil?

Yes, actually I believe that it is possible, but I also believe it’s a lot more challenging and so unnecessary. It’s difficult to take the time to contemplate what will bring you true inner happiness when your stomach keeps growling from lack of food. Go take care of your stomach, and other needs, but watch out for the ‘one-day, someday syndrome,’ that says you have to do x,y, or z first before you can be happy.

Remember, taking care of your basic needs is a good place to bring inner happiness to your life as you’re taking care of your needs. It’s hard for us to truly make a significant difference in the world if we’re constantly being tripped up by the breakdowns that occur when our basic needs aren’t being met.

At the same time, many of us have allowed a lot of wants and whims to slip onto the ‘basic needs’ list, and consequently, we’re attempting to live much higher on the hog under the false supposition that we have so many basic needs. Cable TV with Showtime and the Disney Channel is not a basic need. Neither is having the newest model luxury automobile or taking exotic vacations twice a year. Simplify your life by identifying what your basic needs truly are. 

Eliminate What Detracts from Happiness

These next two steps are so simple in nature that their power can easily be missed. If you want inner happiness (or pretty much anything else), eliminate from your life that which detracts from it. This includes those emotional blocks I spoke about earlier. It may also include the elimination of ‘toxic relationships,’ clutter around your home, dissatisfying work, excess weight, etc.

This is one of the places where the “How Do You Eat an Elephant?” principle comes in handy. Just like you eat an elephant one bite at a time, you can eliminate that which detracts from your happiness one step, or one item, or one relationship at a time. And with each step, take the time to acknowledge your progress, thus adding to your experience of happiness along the way.

Add in More of What Makes You Happy

As you eliminate ‘stuff’ that makes you unhappy or detracts from your happiness, you make room for adding what will contribute to your happiness. This can work on many different levels. For example, when I cleaned and organized my office and eliminated many of the file folders that surrounded my desk, there was room to add some beauty to my office decor. I now have a small fountain on top of my oak filing cabinet, a decorative aquarium on the library table and several plants (including a Christmas Cactus which is blooming beautifully as of this writing). But when I was surrounded by clutter, there was no room for these beautiful additions. My surroundings now contribute to my happiness.

What can you eliminate from your environment that will open up space, both inner and out, for making additions that will enhance the quality of your life?

Find Your Balance Between Inner Work  and Outer Expression

I’m currently reading a wonderful book by Wayne Muller entitled, Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest. The following passage points to this important step to happiness:

“The noise of our lives made us deaf, unable to hear when we are called, or from which direction. Henri [a friend of Muller’s and a priest] said our lives have become absurd — because in the word absurd we find the Latin word absurd, which means deaf. In our spiritual life, we need to listen to God who constantly speaks but whom we seldom hear in our hurried defense.

“On the other hand, Henri was fond of reminding me that the word obedient comes from the Latin word audire, which means “to listen.” Henri believed that spiritual life was a pilgrimage from absurdity to obedience — from deafness to listening.”

If you’re living a loud life of absurdity, it’s important to add in moments of peaceful rest and solitude so you can listen and hear life’s call to you.

Keep Watering the Roots of Your Happiness

As you identify what provides you with inner happiness it’s important to keep identifying it. While this may sound obvious, it’s surprising how often people stop doing what they know works. If watering the roots produces luscious fruit, then keep watering the roots. If devoting the first hour of each day to quiet meditation and reflection helps you stay centered and present throughout your day and that makes you happy, then don’t drop that special time out of your routine.

Spread It Around

Happiness doesn’t have to be a one-person show. While it may begin with you and end with you, in-between are plenty of opportunities to spread it around to others. You will probably find that spreading it around simply adds to your own experience of joy and satisfaction, so don’t be stingy with it.

Acknowledge the “Shadow” and Move On

From time to time even the happiest among us will have occasion for sadness. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate our happiness. So, when those days come along, embrace them. Allow yourself to be present to whatever is there. Just know that you don’t need to stay stuck in the shadows. Acknowledge them and when you’re ready, move on.

Downward spirals , Life On Purpose Process

Some people call them vicious circles or cycles. I prefer to think of them as downward spirals of life. I’m referring to those periods that we can all become trapped; like in the whirlpool of water as it drains from a tub. If we’re not careful and mindful, these downward spirals can suck the life right out of us. They’re like the Spiral of Fulfillment in reverse. When we find ourselves trapped in such a downward spiral, our lives can look and feel pretty bleak. Here are a few simple and effective steps you can use to free yourself of such life-draining periods:

1. Notice The Spiral You’re In

As is often the case, awareness is the first step to intervention. Much of the power of a downward spiral comes from our continuing to be unaware of the direction of our life. Like a whirlpool, a downward spiral’s power picks up strength and speed the longer we’re in it; so it follows that the sooner we become aware we’re trapped in a downward spiral the easier it will be to change the direction of our life. It’s often helpful to remember a downward spiral reversed becomes a spiral of fulfillment.

Of course, one aspect of a downward spiral that can keep us stuck is that we often become frenetically busy; too busy to take the time to reflect upon our lives. I see this often with my clients. As they get more in touch with their life purpose, they begin to take on new projects that allow them to express their purpose, but they may also drop out the very practices and exercises that help them to stay awake and aware of their purpose. This may include missing or postponing coaching sessions. 

Then, a few weeks later, they may report feeling stuck and off purpose. One of my first questions is to ask which of the ‘tools for living on purpose’ they continuing to work with to stay present for their life purpose. More often than not the reply is that they’ve been too busy to use the tools.

I’ve seen it in my own life as well, and I’m the guy that invented the tools and knows how effective they can be. The good news is that once we become aware of straying off-course, we can begin to move back to the purposeful path.

2. Allow Yourself To Be Fully Present For Your Life

When you first notice you’re in a downward spiral, the tendency is to quickly react in an effort to free yourself. This initial reaction is often based in fear and may only exacerbate the spiral. Another common tendency is to feel guilty or ashamed for having strayed off-course, which only further complicates the problem, especially if you allow yourself too long of a “pity party.”

Instead, take some time to notice what is happening in your life from a detached position. Become a witness or observer of your life by stepping outside of it for a while. One simple way to do this is to imagine you are in a movie theater reviewing the “Story of My Life” movie. Watch and observe what’s been happening in your life without getting caught up in judging yourself.

3. Consciously Release The Thoughts And Emotions

Downward spirals of made up of “molecules of meaning” that arise from and are consistent with fear, and lack-based thinking and emotions, so you can begin to “dismantle” the downward spiral by identifying these thoughts and emotions, and then gently letting them go.

A useful exercise to help in this process is to envision a large bottomless trashcan in front of you into which you toss each thought and each emotion attached to the thought, paying particular attention to the ones that feel most disempowering to you. Another approach is to write it all down then burn the paper thus releasing their hold on you.

4. Resist The Temptation To Indulge

Don’t get sucked into the drama of the movie or the story of your current situation. There’s no point in watching the movie over and over. This will only suck you further down the spiral. Observe and move on. Another way to stay stuck in the story is to keep telling it to yourself and others over and over, in the process making it feel more real, and in the process, making yourself feel more hopeless.

Be on the lookout for friendships that are built on sharing one another’s dramatic stories of whoa and foreboding
. Such relationships only serve to keep each
other stuck in life and serve no positive purpose. “Misery really does love company,” so watch out who you invite to your pity party.

5. Commit To Changing Directions

Make a conscious choice to change the direction of your spiral. You may write down your choice as a declaration or share it with a friend, loved one, or your coach. Draw a line in the sand. As you make the choice, begin to consider what life could be like if and when you move through the downward spiral, and you reverse its direction. 

You don’t need to try to “leap tall buildings in a single bound.” It’s fine to start with a small step. “I’m going to feel stronger and more on top of my game tomorrow,” is a fine way to start. 

6. Know The Make-Up Of A Downward Spiral

Knowing the basic elements that are the composition of a downward Life spiral will make it easier to change its directions. As I said before, downward spirals are composed of “molecules of meaning” that can be further broken down into the basic components of fear, and lack-based thoughts and emotions.

This includes such things as doubt, worry, “shoulding” yourself, jealousy, anger, fear, frustration, etc. All of these come together to affect who you think you are (i.e.: loser, failure, unlovable, etc.) that then determines the actions you take and what you say out loud to yourself. All of which then determines what you have, as in the results with which you measure your life.

7. Use The Law Of Attraction To Change The Spiral’s Direction

The Law of Attraction states that “like attracts like.” So just as fear and lack-based thoughts will attract more thoughts of a similar nature, the same is true of love and abundance based thoughts. By changing your thoughts and your emotions you change
the direction of the downward spiral.

This is where clearly knowing your life purpose can come in handy because your life purpose statement can be a powerful leverage point for making such a “purposeful pivot.”  But, even if you don’t yet have that clarity of purpose you can use the strategy by identifying thoughts and feelings akin to Universal Love, a sense of abundance, and a willingness to flow with life. 

One way to start making such a shift is to remember one or more times when you were in love with life. Perhaps it’s a memorable time like the birth of a child, or graduating from college. Or it may be something as simple as remembering a time when you were walking on the beach and felt closely connected to the rest of life. Use these positive memories to help redirect the flow and focus of your thoughts.

8. Practice Patience And Persistence

Remember you didn’t get into the downward spiral overnight, so don’t expect to reverse direction to take place in an instance. Just as it takes time to stop a car and put it into reverse, it will take time before you’ll see the evidence that your downward spiral has become a spiral of fulfillment. In the meantime, continue to affirm and trust the process.

cate the process with positive affirmations and memories. Spend time with other people who have a positive outlook on life. Take some time to be of service to others who are less fortunate than yourself.

9. Begin To Gather Evidence For The Turnaround

As you continue the turnaround process begins to look for physical evidence that the process is working. Start with the mindset that the evidence is there already and your job is to find it like a detective? rather than wondering whether there is any evidence or not.

Evidence can come in all sizes and it all counts. There’s no piece of evidence too small to claim. Keep looking as you continue to set the intention that all is in Divine Order even when it doesn’t always look or feel that way.

10. Debrief, Declare The Accomplishment and Celebrate

At some point, you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the turnaround is complete. Before moving on take some time to acknowledge what you’ve learned from the experience, declare to yourself the accomplishment and celebrate it. You’ve made major progress along your purposeful path. “Celebrate, celebrate — dance to the music.”7.

Life on Purpose, Soul, Starvation Diet,

Remember, the old adage about how important it is to “eat three square meals a day?” While I’ve never quite figured out what a square meal is, I do know that the main point is that, if we want to stay physically healthy, we need to feed our bodies a healthy diet on a regular basis.

Pop quiz time. (Don’t worry, it’s an easy question to answer.) On average, how many times a day do you eat?

Your answer goes here:

Now, if you’re like most people, you probably answered somewhere between 2 – 4 times per day. In other words, we all know that we need to eat on a regular basis to keep our bodies fed and fit.

But how about your soul — your spirit — your ‘beingness?’ Are you regularly taking time to feed it or do you have your soul on a starvation diet?

We all have heard about the ‘body-mind-spirit’ triad and how all three of these aspects of ourselves are interconnected — a bit like the 3 legs of a stool. In just the same way, if one of those ‘legs’ is getting the short end of the stick in the area of nurturing and nourishing, then you’re going to end up out of balance — may be a little, maybe a lot.

Now I’m going to make a bold assertion so hang on (and keep reading) —

“Many people in our Western Culture are significantly out of kilter when it comes to the degree to which they nourish and nurture their soul/spirit/being.”

Now, granted my viewpoint may be a bit slanted. After all, a lot of my work is with people who are either overwhelmed, overworked, burned out and/or who have lost their sense of purpose and meaning. So, granted I’m likely to see more than my share of emaciated souls.

 

The Cost of a Starved Spirit

I have a long term client who has also become a friend over the 15-plus years we’ve known each other. We recently resumed a coaching relationship in part because of the challenge of dealing with some health issues with a family member, coupled with a severe dry spell in his business.

Though he’d been one of the most successful real estate brokers in his region for the past several years, he’d been experiencing a dry spell like never before. He was trapped in a vicious cycle of worry — worry about his family member’s health issues, which adversely affected his effectiveness at work, which led to more worry about his work slump.

All of which led to his feeling like he needed to work even longer hours to make up for the lost revenue, thus escalating the downward spiral.

Meanwhile, his soul/spirit/being was starving for nourishment.

 

Why Vacations Often Don’t Restore the Soul

Unfortunately, many people, when they are feeling a bit frazzled about their life, use a strategy that can make matters worse — they take a vacation.

How many times have you heard someone returning from their vacation comment that they now need a vacation to recover from their vacation because, once again, they tried to cram too many activities into their time off? And, as if that’s not bad enough, they often then return to a massive amount of work that was put on hold pending their return. Urgh.

No wonder we Americans take the fewest vacation days of any group in the world. So what does work?

 

Creating a Balanced Diet for Your Soul

After discerning that my friend/client’s soul was starving for some nourishment, I asked him what he felt would be a balanced diet that could revive his spirit. Here’s the list we created:

1- Sharing compassion and love with others

2- Times of quiet serenity (without feeling guilty about not being at work)

3. Quiet time to read, write, and exercise (mostly alone)

4. Time for some adventure and exploration (parts of his true life purpose that had been being ignored) 5. Time with the family for traveling.

 

The Good News — The Turnaround is in Process

While my client’s spirit isn’t fully rested and restored yet, there has been steady progress. He informed me during a recent coaching session that he’s closed on his first sale in quite a while with others pending. And interestingly, the family member with the health crisis is beginning to improve as well.