Marie Hopps was the first person I ever met who thought I was lovely, just because I existed. Every few days, I would stumble into Marie's apartment from one of my escapades, looking like a tomcat with a missing eye or a torn ear. She would patiently make a pot of tea and offer me chocolate digestive cookies, seemingly unfazed by the sight of my bloodshot eyes. I miss her.
What if I were to tell you that the success of your journey towards reclaiming your personal power will largely hinge on stories? Life is about stories. The stories we tell each other. The stories we tell ourselves. Our stories define who we are. This isn't a process that we're necessarily aware of. This is a problem.
When I was a teenager, I golfed. Once. It did not end well. Or start well for that matter. Suffice to say, my game failed to ascend to the dizzy heights of my expectations. Fast forward a century or so, to about 13 years ago when I took up golf once again, and I've discovered something amazing: how to have fun while golfing. Gather around and I'll share my secrets.
Very often, we use our "current" self to judge decisions that we made in the past. But we weren't the same person then. Instead, try to get back inside the head of the "you" who made those decisions. You'll often find that you were making a fair and balanced decision based on the facts available to you at the time and the emotional space you were in.
If you had to give some advice to young graduates, what would it be? I threw out this question on LinkedIn as I had been asked to be a commencement speaker at the Sheridan College convocation. The responses were fascinating, varied, and often said much about the person offering the advice. So now I pass on some of this collected wisdom to you.
Let's be honest, sometimes we're given good advice but we ignore it. Other times, we put too much trust in the guidance of others at the risk of ignoring our own inner voice. With that said, I thought I'd share some of the best advice I've ever received and some advice I never received, or didn't listen to, that I really wish I had! Hopefully, some of you benefit from these!
So you went from being a slacker with unrealized potential to a mover and shaker in the world in 13 steps. Or more likely, you just read all the blog versions of the whole book (without skipping over too much, I hope) and you are wondering a bunch of questions. I will answer the questions first and then get to the ones who have gone through the 13 steps.
Most people feel something missing in their lives. So, how do we bring meaning into our lives? How do we begin to feel truly alive? Do something crazy! Help someone else. Choose to make one small positive change in the world. When we start thinking about helping others, we raise not only their hopes but our own heart vibrations. Our hearts rise up beyond the petty slights and missteps of daily life and begin to focus on a bigger picture.
When you are mindful of your daily life, your life is one of being present. Of really living and not just killing time to go virtual. Learning to care and to matter may be one of the greatest commodities in the age of ideas because then your work, play, study and relationship times become chances to experience, feel, think and grow. Live each day like it was the only one you have. Care about people and learn from everything.
The young clients I work with tend to be addicted to: video gaming, magic cards, junk food and/or cannabis. Many would say that their addictions seem to provide a level of comfort -- a buffer from an unsafe world. Having an addictive nature means that you have a passionate nature. So, how do you take these passions and make them become something generative?
So here you are, taking another stab at "making it" in life. Your parents are cautiously optimistic.You are non-committal. Your dog still thinks you're amazing (but he likes Yanni). It should go well. You're older. You've had a few "challenges" under you belt and you've survived. You're not on the street or in a cult or both. Then why so nervous?
In a positive stage of your life, you're meeting with people who will accept you for following your purpose and sharing the qualities of passion and striving that you have in common. Each positive action builds upon itself. Each setback becomes merely a minor bump on the road you are travelling on and everything leads you towards your bliss. You may just find yourself unboxed and free for the very first time!
You can study, you can practice, you can philosophize all you want, it means diddly until you test it out there in the "real world." Now comes the next step for a young adult searching to find their success in life: putting three toes in the water. If you get three straight failures, remember Edison took 10,000 wrong tries to find the right filament, creating the incandescent bulb.
What would you do? How would you be? How would you go about it? Who would you seek out? What if it wasn't what you thought it would be? How would you know when you'd arrived? Be careful for what you wish for. I am going to give you the keys to make whatever you want happen as long as it is for the benefit of all who are touched by your choices.
Now meet your greatest challenger: the time-stealer. He (or she) is fun, charming, great to be with, someone you are happy to do things with, gets all your jokes, just all around great to kill time with. Yes, the time-stealer is a time-killer. You never get it back, and yet, you value the time spent with them.
We need to own what we do. The truth is that it is the things we do just for ourselves, things that we do on a daily basis, things we do when we are inspired but also when we are sick of doing them that builds character and creates something I call Generativity -- the things that one does that improve the quality of life in any way, moment by moment.
At some point in our childhood, we have had some negative incidents happen to us that have caused us to be self-limiting. These become tapes playing in our heads so often that we don't even notice what they say anymore but they effect every decision we make. Here is an example of changing the loops:
Historically, the act of apprenticeship began when a person reached somewhere between the ages of 10 and 15. However, that practice changed rapidly with the inclusion of child labor laws and free education for children -- both great movements but both came at the cost of the influence of experiencing a one-on-one mentor; someone to influence the success of a person in their adolescent years. The following is a guide to finding the proper mentor for an individual student.
Success starts with looking at the strengths and challenges in our daily life. Through these challenges, we can understand the patterns that we keep repeating and the self-limiting tapes running in our sub-conscious. Our strengths can inspire us to rise over these repeating patterns and tapes, leading us to a richer life. I invite you to try these exercises for a happier, fulfilling life.