Do you think that striving for excellence takes a lot of work, effort and struggle? Would you be shocked if I told you excellence should be easy? Yes, it takes a lot of work, but not in the way you’re probably thinking. The work comes, not from checking off major hurdles on your to-do list, but rather from finding your zone of genius, which, in turn, makes it easy and fun.
I know this goes against the current trend. Many life coaches advise their clients: “If you want to make it big, you’ve got to hustle!” Or, “Push yourself outside of your comfort zone.” Or, “Fight for every advantage you can get.”
When people buy into this philosophy, they push, fight and claw their way to some measure of success. In the process, they almost kill themselves. They don’t make time for exercise. They eat on the run, if at all. They survive on caffeine and adrenaline. And then they’re too keyed up to sleep at night. Day after day, they follow this same routine. Soon exhaustion, overwhelm, burnout and illness catch up with them.
If hustling and pushing yourself relentlessly were the best way to achieve excellence, these damaging results wouldn’t happen.
In reality, excellence results from giving yourself permission to be yourself and finding your zone of genius. Gay Hendricks, author of “The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level,” brought the phrase “zone of genius” to our attention. It describes the one thing you do better than almost anyone; the thing you do joyfully and effortlessly, which creates value for yourself and others.
Before you can find your zone of genius, however, it’s necessary to identify the fear that keeps it hidden from your own sight.
For example, do you find yourself saying, “I could do great things and be someone special if it wasn’t for…my job, my marriage, my race, my education, my social status, my looks…” and the list goes on and on. Beware, that way of thinking blinds you to your own genius.
In order to find your zone of genius, here are some other self-defeating thoughts to identify and explore. Keep in mind your goal is greater self-awareness, so it behooves you to mindfully adopt a more self-compassionate way of living.
- Your desire for security makes you afraid to change the status quo.
- Your attachment to money and prestige keeps you in a job you hate.
- Your fear of vulnerability makes your relationships shallow and unfulfilling.
- Your belief that success only comes from hard work relentlessly drives you to dismiss self-care.
- Your feelings of unworthiness prevent you from claiming your uniqueness.
- Your addiction to drama sidetracks and distracts you.
- Your misplaced loyalty makes you choose smallness rather than disappoint a colleague, boss or loved one.
It’s all too easy to be comfortable with living a miserable life. Most people rather live with what they know, rather than risk the unknown.
This is where the “hard work” begins because it calls for radically changing your approach. Instead of always pushing, pushing, pushing, it’s okay to pursue what comes easily. You don’t have to suffer to be great. It’s okay to enjoy life.
Rather than beating your head against closed doors by setting lofty goals and doing it by yourself, look for open doors of opportunity. Ask yourself what you really want in this moment of time. Give yourself permission to try things and do them imperfectly. It is hard to let go of ingrained habits and self-defeating thoughts, but this kind of “hard work” brings you health, vitality, a sense of fulfillment and balance.
One way to know you’re working in your genius is when you’re so absorbed in your project that time flies. You feel a deep sense of satisfaction and can’t wait to start again tomorrow. If you’re not quite in that zone yet, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to help you identify your zone of genius.
“You seem like you’re miles away.” It happens to all of us, doesn’t it? Your body is there but you’re mind is somewhere else. Conversely, it’s also easy to be engaged mentally, but not physically. You know (the brain function) how to do something (lose weight, quit smoking, run a business, be a parent) but you don’t do (the body function) what is required to follow through.
If this only happens occasionally, that’s not a problem. However, if that’s your continual state of being, it’s a sign that you’re not fully connected with yourself or others. Not being fully present causes great strain on your relationships. And even more damaging, it makes it impossible for you to listen to what your own body is saying. It prevents your parts from being fully integrated.
There is great value in paying attention to your whole body as a source of wisdom and learning. You can learn to minimize distraction and become more fully present by incorporating somatic practices in you day-to-day activities.
What are somatic practices?
Somatic practices create an elevated level of self-awareness. Rather than focusing solely on thoughts and emotions, somatic coaching incorporates your entire body. The word somatic comes from the Greek root word “soma”, which means “the living body in its wholeness.” The body, mind, emotions and spirit influence each other constantly, even when you’re not aware of it.
Our society teaches us to concentrate on doing brain work. In school we memorize facts and pass tests, but we’re not taught how to live as a wholly integrated person. In business we sit at computers and strain our brains to the limits. But by the end of the day we’re exhausted mentally and just want to “veg out”. However, the body hasn’t been stretched or worked, so it’s too keyed up to settle down, therefore sleepless nights ensue.
By integrating simple somatic practices, you will get your work done, plus feel more centered and less tired. By bringing your whole integrated self to the table, your head is not doing all the work, and you’re not fighting with the parts of you that are distracted.
What are some basic somatic practices you can do to create deeper mind/body awareness?
- Mindfulness. Daily make a practice of noticing your body sensations and emotional responses.
- Monitor and become more aware of your breathing patterns. Here are some resources for you:
Tap into the Powerful Anatomy of Breathing to Promote Better Health
Five Breathing Exercises for Balancing Your Life, Your Mood and Your Relationships
Breathe Your Way to Wellness With the Yoga Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique
- Suspend judgment as you scan your body. Self-acceptance, self-awareness and self-motivation empower you to let go of self-judgments.
- Centering. Find that space within you that keeps you calm and at peace. Here are some resources to discover the best centering practice for you:
How to Center Yourself to Achieve Greatness.
10 Centering Techniques to Live an Embodied Life.
Discover Centering Practices That Promote Excellence.
- Grounding. After you’ve centered yourself, connect yourself to the ground. Move your attention from your head down the length of your body – your heart center, belly, legs, and feet. Feel yourself connected to the ground. Think about the time someone pushed you before you were aware that they would. You almost toppled over, didn’t you? Then think about how being aware ahead of time makes you able to hold your ground. You instinctively use your awareness to drop your energy and settle more into your body to ground yourself.
- The Feldenkrais Method®. Create a daily practice of body awareness through movement. I continually use this method to resource my back and make my body more resilient to stress.
- Visualization. Mindfully use the power of your thoughts to your advantage and engage your body in the new awareness.
- Reframing exercises. Rewire your brain to handle any negative event in a positive way and anchor the new action into your body.
- Anchoring techniques. Preset your response to specific situations by choosing positive somatic states.
These are just some of the somatic practices I use to help my clients feel more resourceful and excel in life. It’s empowering to know that you can mindfully choose to respond in a way that leaves you feeling whole and at peace. It just takes practice. With practice, your body will become more flexible and resourceful and you will become the person you want to be.
I’d love to explain further how you can use these and other powerful somatic practices. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“When your desires are strong enough, you will appear to possess superhuman powers to achieve.” ~ Napoleon Hill
Eagles effortlessly soar for hours, because they instinctively look for updrafts and downdrafts that take them where they want to go. We have more than instinct on our side. Even if, at times, our emotional triggers sidetrack us, we can learn to actually use them to get back on track and create the life we want.
It’s true that many people get stuck, because they’re hardwired toward self-defeating negativity and doubt. Try as you might, it feels like you can’t turn those emotions off. If that’s true in your case, take heart. You can use these emotions to trigger new, more useful thoughts that will take you where you want to be.
Here are three emotional triggers that will let you navigate through difficulties and excel at whatever you want…
- Let negativity trigger your ability to look for the “updrafts” of positivity. We are hardwired to see what’s wrong, so we don’t get hurt. Our “gut” or intuition tells us when we’re in a life-threatening situation. Problems arise, however, when we get out of balance physically, mentally and spiritually, and we can become too sensitive, feeling like everything is a challenge or attack—even when that’s not the intention.
You can regain your balance, by learning to identify defensive feelings and practicing relaxation techniques that make you feel safe and grounded. Before speaking negatively of yourself or others, mindfully retrain yourself to think positive thoughts. It will change your feelings, thoughts, behaviors and even relationships. You absolutely do get what you focus on.
- Let the “down drafts” of pressure trigger your sense of wonder. Though it may sound cliché, life is a journey, not a destination. If you rigidly hold to a set destination or outcome, you’ll put so much pressure on yourself your performance will suffer. You’ll miss opportunities that let you grow or experience new joys and discoveries. Pressure to perform does create stress, but remember that you, and everyone else, are practicing human beings, not perfect human beings. Everyone is a work in progress.
You don’t have to have all the answers. Cultivate greater awareness so you see that life is full of opportunities to try something new, rather than tests. This will help you mindfully transform a moment of panic into one of empowerment. You just have to have the courage to move forward, stretch yourself and do your best. Practice acceptance, rather than judgment as you let whatever happens, happen. And when you feel discomfort, choose to do the thing that scares you the most.
- Let insecurities trigger empowerment. All throughout life we take leaps of faith, just like eagle chicks tumble out of the nest for their first flight. You can do and be whoever you want. Who you were as a child is not who you are today. Who you are now, is not who you will be a year from now.
Feeling insecure means you’ve discovered an area where you can learn something new. You can master anything, if you’re willing to put in the time. Each step forward empowers you to take the next step and then the next, until you’re soaring with the eagles.
It’s been scientifically proven that we can reshape our brains. Each thought and behavior wears a path in the brain. That’s why we can do so many things without thinking about them, like making dinner or driving a car. The amazing thing is that if you don’t like a thought or behavior, you can create a new path that eventually overwrites the previous path.
I’d love to partner with you on this exciting part of your life’s journey. Please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“I don’t think anyone ever gets completely used to conflict. If it’s not a little uncomfortable, then it’s not real. The key is to keep doing it anyway” ~ Patrick Lencioni
“I hate conflict! I prefer to let them do what they want, rather than make a scene…even if it means I feel like I destroy a little bit of who I am each time.” Is that how you feel about resolving conflicts? Many people do. They question whether it’s even possible to resolve some conflicts peacefully.
It’s worth the effort. Learning to successfully manage conflict will help keep you healthy and happy. Of course, it’s easy to say, “Just tell them how you feel.” But when you’re the one feeling cornered or threatened, it’s not easy to think rationally and remain calm.
So what’s the secret to resolving conflicts peacefully and getting the best outcome?
First, we need to identify conflict for what it is and what it isn’t. It’s not a challenge. It’s not a declaration that you’re unloved. It’s not a put down. It’s not an assessment of your worth.
It is a different point of view. And that’s something we can welcome, for it helps us expand our own thinking and way of being. That being said, there are times when a person will cause conflict with the intention to hurt you. When that happens, walk away from that kind of conflict, shake it off, and put that burden back on the shoulders of the instigator where it belongs.
Conflict becomes scary and draining when we attach the wrong significance to it. Emotionally charged circumstances often cause us to react badly to conflict. That’s why it’s so vital to practice mindfulness to mentally take a step back, observe without judgment and release the tension. Then you can use the following process to resolving conflicts peacefully….
Remind yourself that being right isn’t the issue. Handling conflict isn’t about being right or wrong – that only creates barriers. When you push your point of view as the only right one, you may win the battle (the disagreement), but you’ll lose the war (the relationship). If you tend towards being competitive, now is the time to remove that element from the situation. Instead, switch your focus to finding a peaceful resolution you can both live with.
Turn on your listening skills. Our talking, shouting or interrupting accomplishes nothing. Rather than talking at someone, learn to talk with them. That means only responding after you’ve listened deeply. You don’t have to agree with what’s said. Just acknowledge how the other person thinks and feels. Remember that a kind touch goes a long way toward improving communication. (You can learn more about listening skills on my other website The Institute for Professional Leadership.)
Breathe deeply and maintain your calm. Calmness enables you to clearly articulate your thoughts. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “This upsets me. Give me a moment to catch my breath, so we can resolve this peacefully.” If you have to, ask for a break, promising that you’ll revisit it later in the day. Avoid putting it off until tomorrow, because that allows room for festering.
Be forward thinking. Dredging up and using the past as a weapon is not productive. Let it go. Be mindfully in the moment, step back and see the big picture of what’s happening right now.
Set your intention for a peaceful resolution. Visualize the desired outcome and mentally map out all of your options. Be honest with yourself about what your true intention is. If you’re hanging on to a little bit of wanting to get even, to hurt them like they hurt you, it’s going to manifest itself. With a clear intention to make peace in your relationship, you’ll look for common ground.
Focus on WE, not me. Find a solution that serves both of you. Use words that show you’re invested in a mutually beneficial solution. For example, “What can WE do to…?”
Viewing conflict resolution as a system helps you create a plan for productive communication. The other person may not always respond in kind. Nevertheless, by taking the higher path, you’ll create an atmosphere that’s more conducive to successfully resolving conflicts peacefully.
If you’d like help in creating a calmer, peaceful life, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Don’t let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through this form. Risk being seen in all of your glory.” ~ Jim Carrey
It’s normal to want to be loved, to fit in, and to be accepted. We care what other’s think. That’s why we all do the dance of give and take – we’re trying to find our place in our family, the workplace, our community and the world. And if you start from a grounded, well-balanced sense of self and others, it isn’t so difficult to stand up for yourself, celebrate the unique person you are, and be your own woman.
The imbalance comes when we care too much, at the expense of what we hold dear. This leads to being a people pleaser, which is something that women especially struggle with.
Have you noticed how fear of rejection or conflict makes you shrink back from letting others see who you really are? You might mistakenly think that if you never make waves, if you agree with everything, if you always change your plans to accommodate others, if you always say “yes” even when your gut is screaming “NO!” then you’ll be loved instead of rejected.
This kind of desperation for love and approval ultimately hides the unique person that you are. It’s unrealistic, exhausting, and can irreparably damage your health. It can’t work, because you won’t love yourself. And when you don’t love yourself, you can’t love others. And when you’re so intent on getting love rather than showing love, your desperation repels the very people you want to please.
The good news is that you can regain your balance and learn to love yourself as you are and be strong enough to speak your own truth at all times. Does that sound out of reach for you? Let me assure you, it isn’t. You can celebrate the unique person you are now and fully embrace the person you want to become in the future.
How to reclaim the real you…
First off, it’s vital to identify the factors that have thrown you off balance. This involves digging into the past. That takes courage and willingness to be vulnerable. But you don’t have to put on a brave face any more. Mindfully peel back the layers, like peeling an onion. Yes, there will be tears, but think of the end results – you’ll discover the perfect sauce for a joyful life.
Most often the root of the problem can be traced to things that trigger your guilt and shame. These self-destructive emotions feed on your worries, insecurities and fears. They tell you that you’re not good enough…that you don’t deserve good things. Everyone else deserves it, but not you.
Guilt and shame have three major lies you might be buying into:
Lie #1 – It’s selfish to put yourself first. That’s a lie because you won’t have the physical, mental, emotional or spiritual strength to care for someone else, if you haven’t taken care of your own needs first. You will never have the confidence and belief in yourself to help others. Self-love is an essential step to being the truly amazing person you’re meant to be. Accept that you are a unique person with talents and opinions the world needs.
Lie #2 – You’re stupid and ungrateful to turn down any opportunity. That’s a lie because you simply can’t do everything that comes your way. There isn’t enough time in the day or energy in your body. We all have to make choices and that means saying “no” to something, so you can say “yes” to something more important. Remember, you’re allowing someone else, who would really enjoy the opportunity, to step up. So embrace the fact that it’s a kindness to say “no.”
Lie # 3 – You’re going to cause a scene, create conflict, and hurt someone if you say “no.” That’s a lie because you are not responsible for how others react. Oftentimes we blow things out of proportion and envision the worse case scenario. In reality, the other person usually shrugs, says “okay” and moves on. It’s not that big of a deal. If they cause a scene or conflict, that’s on them. It’s not you. It’s them.
It’s time to stand up for yourself, stop being a people pleaser, and celebrate the unique person you are now and who you’ll become in the future.
- Make time for what’s important to you.
- Think about a request before answering.
- When you say ‘no’, do it confidently because that’s how you really feel.
- Don’t take responsibility for the other person’s reaction.
- Don’t relive your decision or stress about it for hours afterwards.
- Don’t look for hidden meanings or attach significance that isn’t there.
Your worth does not hinge on acquiescing. Do you believe that? No matter what you decide, you have no reason to feel guilt or shame. You are worthy of your place on this planet. You are an amazing human being, a unique person with gifts and talents that contribute to making this world a better place.
In today’s busy world, it’s easy to lose sight of what makes you a unique person. I’m here to help you gain more clarity. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).