Powerful questions focus attention. And what you focus on grows and expands. So here's a question you may want to live with: What do I love about my life?
To be clear, I did not say to simply answer this question. The power is not in the answer. In fact, your answer - from last week, yesterday (or a moment ago) - makes no difference. It is inquiring and wondering about the question that CREATES your experience of life.
Try it. Invest two or three minutes now in the question (you might also journal about it). Go ahead - just two or three minutes. I will wait.
PRESTO! You are now present to what you love about your life. And I don't mean theoretically. If you sat in the question for just a few minutes, you are 'experiencing' what you love about your life - right now. The question directs your awareness to what is great in your life. And your awareness lights up that reality - literally brings it to life. Wasn't that simple? You just created (or perhaps even transformed) your experience of life - right now. You don't even have to believe you can do this. Because now you know it instead.
What are some powerful questions you will choose to live with?
What do I love about my children? (vs why do my children drive me nuts?)
What is great about my career? (vs why am I not getting anywhere?)
What do I value about my colleagues (vs why are people around here so incompetent?)
What do I appreciate about my spouse? (vs why don't they appreciate me?)
What do I enjoy about taking care of my body? (why is it so hard to stay in shape?)
Rather than living in reaction to your current reality (the reality you have created so far - unintentionally), wake up and create the reality you want! Change your questions. Change your life.
Most of us live our lives from 'more'. The goal is more. More is better. We assume that if we continue to get more; accumulate more; then one day we will have abundance.
Some years ago, after reading Your Money or Your Life, I became interested in 'enough'. I began inquiring into what is 'enough' for me? And something unexpected happened. As I began to distinguish enough, I began to experience abundance in my life. True abundance flows from enough; never from more.
"When you let go of trying to get more of what you don't really need, it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have. When you make a difference with what you have, it expands."
- Lynne Twist, The Soul of Money
I am enjoying great business results. I continue to gain new clients and increased revenue, yet I have no marketing plan. And despite my sales experience, I do not engage in sales activity such as prospecting, building a pipeline, qualifying and converting leads, etc. Instead, I am regularly delighted with emails and calls from people wanting conversations about how I might serve them. It all feels effortless. My business plan is simply to “attract” clients.
For some time that didn't seem right. I kept hearing this voice, coming from a 20-year corporate career: "You need a proper marketing plan. You have to identify a target market and your ideal client profile. You must make calls and meet with 'prospects' in order to 'close' enough business to achieve your sales targets". I'm somewhat embarrassed to say I didn’t even have sales targets, let alone a plan to achieve them. I still don’t.
I tried listening to that voice. I remember, early on, setting a goal with my coach to meet with 10 ‘prospects’ over the following two weeks. It seemed sensible, yet I was not inspired. I felt stressed, anxious and uncomfortable. The whole exercise dragged me down. How can any positive thing come from such energy?
Outcomes are infused with the energy and vibration used to create them. Pay attention to the quality of your energy and vibration, as this is the energy you will get back. When you struggle doing something you hate in order to earn millions; those dollars contain that same energy when you go to enjoy your wealth. The ends are not justified by the means; they are permeated with them.
Get aligned with your inspiration, passion and aliveness. Focus on doing more of what you love. And take care of yourself so you can be at your best. In my case, that includes meditating, journaling, running, and enjoying time with my family. That's a key part of my business plan. By being at your best, contributing and making a difference - you are presented with even more occasions to do so. Your energy and vibration is attractive. People, opportunities and resources are drawn to you. And of course, customers are happy and business is great.
When you are “being” your best, action is natural and effortless (even when it’s not easy). Promise yourself to "do" (take action) only from this state of "being". When faced with a problem or disappointing results, instead of trying to “do” something to fix it, refocus first on who you are "being" and later allow appropriate action to naturally arise.
Be great. Express your best self. Then enjoy effortless, extraordinary results.
To achieve what you want - get clear about what you want.
Sometimes we pay attention to what we don't want. e.g. I don't want to be overwieight, poor, unemployed, unhappy, etc. And even when we say it's what we want (I want to stop eating junk food, I want to quit smoking), in fact, it's still about what we don't want.
When part of you is focused on what you don't want, some of your energy is now used 'against' it. This leaves you less energy to create and achieve what you do want.
Becoming clear and focused on what you DO want directs 100% of your energy and attention toward it. And by appreciating the positive aspects already there, you increase that energy even more. So if you want to be happy, notice where you are already happy. If you want to be healthy, notice how you are already healthy. If you want more money, appreciate the money you already have.
The things you focus on - and the things you appreciate - will naturally grow and expand in your life.
I used to think abundance was all about "more". More than whatever I had. More can never be experienced right now. It can only be experienced someday. When you believe "more is better", you are present to scarcity and "not enough" (money, time, stuff). In order to obtain abundance, you might even get busy accumulating "more". The trouble is, even after you get more you still do not experience abundance - as it will continue to be about even more.
Imagine instead that abundance is always present. Something to be noticed rather than to be achieved. Consider abundance is something you are either aware of or not. You are either awake to your abundance or asleep to it.
Begin a list of what you value and appreciate in your life. Each day notice the abundance in your life; write it down; appreciate it; share with others about what you are thankful for in your life.
And relax. Abundance was there all along. You can now appreciate it instead of strive for it.
I attended a social event recently with over 100 people. It looked like a typical cocktail party or networking meeting. Some people I knew and many I didn't know. An interesting difference about the event, there were questions were posted on the walls to consider and share about. "What is most important in your life?", "What inspires you?", "What are you focused on right now?" Those aren't the exact questions (I don't remember them anymore) but that was the flavor.
I shared with people about those questions (and whatever other topics that led to). The conversation allowed us to connect with each other at a much deeper level than usual. The impact was incredible. I felt energized, moved and inspired. Not my normal feelings at a typical networking event. I met the most extraordinary people. I experienced a deeper connection and affinity for the people that I knew and also for many that I just met for the first time.
As I looked around the room, it occurred to me this was as random a group as I might see in a mall. I had the realization that inspiration is all around me all the time. My waiter at the restaurant. My dry cleaner. It only takes a slight change in my "automatic" conversation to mutually inspire and create a memorable moment with another.
You have the power to be inspired anywhere, with anyone. Give it a try and share with us what happens.
By the way, if you'd like to join me at one of these events - the next one is May 15, 2011 (Toronto). Contact me for details.
Over the past few months much has shown up in my life about the power of conversations. When I did my coaching certification we studied Fierce Conversations (by Susan Scott). One of the organizations I am doing work with hands out a book called Difficult Conversations. My brother recently completed a program at work called Crucial Conversations. And I am about to begin a 10 month program that has people consider themselves as a "network of conversations".
It is quite powerful to look at your life and consider what you are saying; what you are talking about; who you are speaking with; and even who you are not speaking with that you could. I began to see the impact of the conversations I have. This was quite vivid in my own family. As one example, I see that over half the conversations I have with my 9 year old son are some form of: 'brush your teeth', 'get ready for school', 'have you done your homework?', 'why aren't you eating properly?'. It is clear to me that these conversations limit and have an impact on our relationship. I also see how so many possibilities exist for new conversations that I do not currently have with my son.
On Saturday afternoon, he and I were on our own and I began a conversation called "What do you like about your life?". He and I talked back and forth about what we each like about our life. It was magical and it took our time together in a whole new direction. What is so incredible is how easy and simple it is. I am having so much fun with this. Yesterday during a run with my wife, I began a new conversation, "How would you like to grow and develop over the coming year?". In talking about something new we learned more about each other and deepened our relationship. I am looking forward to playing with this some more. What might happen as I change the conversations in my business - both 'what' I talk about as well as the people with whom I speak?
Are you ready to have some fun? Give this a try. Change your life; change your relationships; change your results; simply by changing what you talk about and with whom. Let me know what happens as you play with this!
What are the things about which you are passionate? How can you pay more attention and spend more time in your passions? I am getting some first hand experience with these questions.
A few weeks ago I did an exercise to clarify my passions (from the book The Passion Test). I was rather surprised when these narrowed down to Vitality, Family, Freedom, Greatness and Abundance. I did not see how spending time in these areas could be practical. I understand, however, that if these areas give me energy, then life is trying to tell me something - so it's probably best to listen.
My experience since has been incredible. I am learning more about how to express and live these passions. Vitality is expressed through my running. Family shows up through 'being with' and really listening to my kids, wife, mom, brother and more. Freedom is expressed through keeping significant open space in my schedule with no appointments and few deadlines. Greatness is present when I'm coaching and listening for what is extraordinary in others. (this really lights me up). And finally, Abundance is alive when I express gratitude for all that I have.
I'm noticing it takes faith to live more consistently from your passions; trusting that more time and attention on things that energize you is somehow what we are meant to do. There's little striving when living in my passions. I don't seem to be going after anything. I am just enjoying. I notice it's easy to feel guilty. Something about it even feels passive, like I should stop this and really strive after some goals or something. It is absolutely luxurious. I'm already starting to see the fruits of it in surprising and delightful ways - even business results achieved with ease. But I won't say much more about that. This isn't about a 'strategy' to live your passions "in order to" achieve something. Living your passions is a gift you give yourself. And I am noticing it turns into a gift and contribution to others. What an awesome design life has.
In what areas of your life are you committed to something more, something new, something beyond what you have known? One area for me is growing and expanding my business. Another is running, where I am training for another marathon and an improved finish time.
As you look at your own areas begin to notice how your current results and performance come from what you already do; how you do it; and who you are being as you do it (e.g. inspired, caring, victim, leader, etc.). Begin to notice how much of this is rather familiar and comfortable. In these areas, you might see there are the things you do and the things you don't do. What you say and what you don't say. People you interact with and those you don't interact with. It's like there's a box you play inside of. And you have the results that are available inside that box.
What might happen if you began paying attention to the edges? Begin to get curious about these edges. What if you begin to 'play' at the edge? Imagine doing something different; speaking with someone new; or trying out a different way of being (e.g. more casual/authentic vs "professional") in this area. What new results might be possible if you went beyond your current edge? Breakthroughs in performance and results are available just beyond the edge. Challenge yourself to play out there. Play without attachment, striving or struggling. And see what happens.
I would love to hear from you. I invite you to share your experience and what you are learning.
Certified Executive Coach (CEC, PCC)
Do you manage people?