The Beavers Are Busy. Are You?

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. — Isaiah 43:19

I’ve noticed the beavers at work along the river these past few mornings.

It seems that spring came in the northern hemisphere last week. A good thing. It’s been a long and malingering winter.

Some winters are like that.

Winter, for many, means hardship. Storms and brutal cold; grey skies, short days and long, dark nights; shoveling snow, icy roads and heating bills that seem to never end.

Things tend to lay dormant in the winter. Many in the animal kingdom hide out and hibernate.

In the people kingdom too.

Then the spring comes. New life, new energy, new hope. A reprieve; a new beginning.

And so it is in all our lives. th

What we do in the springtime of our lives matters. How we till the soil; what we plant; where we plant it; how much we care.

What we build; how we build it.

The summer will surely come. And then the harvest time. It always does.

That harvest, what we reap, will depend on these very moments in our lives: What we sow in the here and now will dictate the seasons yet to come.

  • In our businesses and careers;
  • In our networks and relationships;
  • In our marriages and partnerships and families;
  • In our health and fitness;
  • In our financial lives;
  • In the service of others.

It’s easy to be complacent in the spring, what with the weight of winter finally lifted off. But spring is a time for focus; the time to re-charge, to re-double our efforts. The seeds that we plant, the investments that we make, the care and the attention that we bring to the spring in our lives will yield a thousand fold in the soft glow of our autumn time.

Of course, the seasons of our lives don’t always correspond with Mother Nature. I surely have experienced some desperate winters in the midst of spring; and brutal heat that killed the seeds long after harvest time had come.

But the spring of the year is a good time to remind ourselves of the never-ending rhythm of things; that even in the darkest of nights, the light will return. And that when it does, we have an opportunity to begin again; to create anew; to make our lives the masterpieces they’ve always been meant to be.

Jim Rohn said, “You cannot change the seasons; but you can change yourself.”

In every moment – in every spring – we get to choose.

Wherever you are, whatever the season for you, let’s begin again.

 

Size Matters

For awhile, I lived next door to a guy who sold corporate jets. You know, like Lear jets. The kind that Arab sheiks and Donald Trump fly around in.

I was always intrigued to hear the stories of the sales this guy made.

What was especially fascinating was how very ordinary the process was.C132956z

Selling a jet is just like selling a vacuum cleaner.

Seriously.

A sale, regardless of the thing you’re selling, is about identifying a problem and offering a solution; it’s about communication and relationship building; it’s about about over-delivering on a promise;  and it’s about following-up, caring and long-term service.

Doesn’t matter whether it’s a jet… or a vacuum cleaner.

Until, of course, you come to the commission.

Which brings me to my point this week: It takes about the same amount of effort and skill to sell a jet as it does to sell a vacuum cleaner; the same amount of effort and skill to find and nurture the client; the same amount of effort and skill to make and close the sale.

So why not sell the jet and reap the huge rewards?

The same thing can be said about dreams.

It takes the same amount of effort to dream a small dream as to dream a big dream.

So why not go for the big one?

Fear, usually. And a sense of unworthiness.

We think our fears are meant to keep us safe. But in reality they keep us small.

I love what Marianne Williamson has to say about this:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.”

For some reason, so many of us undervalue who we are and what we’re capable of.  We don’t know or appreciate our worth beyond measure. We cannot comprehend our capacity to impact the world.

And impact – and serve – we must.

The truth is: We are singularities. Each of us is imbued with gifts and talents that are ours alone to share.

We have been sent. We are called to live large; to live out loud; to play full out; to make our presence known.  We are called to lead and love and lift each other up along the way. We are called to share; to make our mark; and leave the world a better place.

Chris Guillebeau was gracious in allowing me to use this quote at the start of Journeys:

“The world has enough sleepwalkers and cynics; the rest of us need your help. I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the path of my own conventional journey. What I refused to do was settle, and I hope you won’t settle either.”

Mediocrity is poison; don’t settle.

Look around. The Universe is vast and overflowing. Abundance is our birthright.

There is no prize for playing small.

Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

So dream big.

The world is waiting. For you.

 

 

 

 

Selfish Dreams

“I have a bone to pick with you.”

I had been stuffing my laptop back into its bag after the talk. I turned around and stared at the well-dressed gentleman in his mid-fifties. He had been in the audience on the right. His eyes drilled into me.

“Following your dreams is selfish,” said the man.

I had been speaking to a group of entrepreneurs and business folks about my book, Journeys on the Edge: Living a Life That Matters. Its overarching message: live your dreams before the clock runs out. In my talk, I say that our dreams are the engines of our hearts.; that they reflect the essence of who we are; that we must live our dreams if we are to live at all.

“Well, I must respectfully disagree with you,” I said.

I was about to say that, if we are to live fully, deeply and well, we must pursue what brings us joy; that when we live in joy, we bring our best selves to the world. I was about to say that, in order to serve others well, we must first be whole and complete in ourselves.

But before I could get another word out, the man asked, “What about Beck Weathers? Weathers nearly died! Think of the hardship he caused his family, all because he dreamed of climbing Everest! How selfish can you be?”

Weathers, a pathologist, was involved in the ill-fated 1996 Everest debacle. Left for dead after a brutal storm high on the mountain, Weathers staggered back to high camp and was later airlifted in a daring high-altitude helicopter rescue. He lost his nose and parts of both feet.

I told my listener that the Weathers accident was unfortunate.

I wanted to tell him about my friend Chris whose life slipped away in my arms after a head-on motor vehicle accident on an ordinary Sunday afternoon on a clear stretch of road not far from where I live. I wanted to share with him the story that Joan Dideon tells about how her husband died as they sat down to dinner. “Life changes in an instant, in an ordinary instant,” she says. (And it does.)

I wanted to tell him that we cannot give what we do not have; that in order to share the fullness of life, we must first know the abundance of life; that in order to share joy, we must find joy; that in order to give love, we must first love ourselves; that in order to reflect peace, we must first know it in our hearts.

I wanted to tell him that life is short; that life is risky. But that even in the face of risk, we are challenged – indeed we are called – to make our lives extraordinary.

And to be extraordinary means expressing – and, yes, sharing – the very core of who we are in the world. Without compromise.

He was in a hurry though. He said his piece. And off he went.

 

This is an encore of a post first published on November 17, 2011.

Get your signed copy of Journeys on the Edge: Living a Life That Matters. Click HERE.

 

I Want To Be A Bufflao

I do. Let me tell you why.

When I have a big project looming on the horizon, I often get overwhelmed. At first I pretend that the project doesn’t exist. Then I pretend that the deadline doesn’t exist. Then when the deadline stares me in the face, I panic. The panic drives me to avoidance. The avoidance results in further delay which results in a further compression of time which results in hysteria which finally results in action.

None of this would be necessary if I were a buffalo.

I’m not terribly good at confrontation. (A rather horrifying confession to make as one trained as a trial lawyer.) If I have to confront a client on a difficult issue, usually involving money, my anxiety level spikes. I get preoccupied with other matters which I pretend have greater priority to justify to myself and to others that I am very busy and important and rather above the messy business of confrontation. I do this with children and bankers and car mechanics and just about anyone else with whom I should be clear and direct, hoping that the need for communication or redress will somehow evaporate with the passage of time or the onset of dementia.

If I were a buffalo, this would not be the case.

Sometimes when I think about sitting down to write or to create, I find myself fighting the great demon: Resistance. I decide that it is time to clean the counters, alphabetize the recyclables, clip coupons or floss my teeth. Certainly the blog will require research: yes research, that’s the ticket; not writing; not just yet. And the inbox: now’s the time to respond to at least a dozen of the 1300 unread messages. And, before I write, I will certainly need to update my status on Facebook: “Just about to write.”

This would be ridiculous if I were a buffalo.

There are times when I am afraid. Like before a speech or a big presentation or a trial or a major expedition or a new project or a medical procedure or a big investment; or like when the market tanks or business is off or the associate quits; or like when what I hoped wouldn’t happen did. Then I shut down, hide out, bury myself under the covers. I turn inward, go incommunicado. And engage that other great demon: Avoidance.

This would not be something I would do were I a buffalo.

That’s because buffaloes know a secret: overwhelm and avoidance and resistance and fear aren’t real. They’re illusions.

Of course they seem pretty damn real. And they certainly feel pretty damn real. But they have no substance to them. They can’t be touched or held. They have no weight or physical substance. And when we face into them, they dissolve. When we stare them down, they disappear.

When we move forward in the face of Overwhelm, when we confront in the face of Avoidance, when we create in the face of Resistance, when we act in the face of Fear, we discover what was true from the very beginning: that we are powerful beyond our understanding, and that the Universe has been waiting for us all along to support us with passion and purpose and possibility.

Now buffaloes may not really know anything about all of this existential stuff; they may think overwhelm and resistance and avoidance are real. Hell, they may even be scared shitless from time to time.

But – and here’s the key – buffaloes don’t act that way.

Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee nation, once described the difference between cows and buffaloes: cows run away from an oncoming storm; the buffalo, on the other hand, turns and charges directly into the storm. And gets through it quicker!

“Whenever I’m confronted with a tough challenge, I do not prolong the torment. I become the buffalo,” she said.

I want to be a buffalo. What about you?

This is an encore of a post first published on January 27, 2011.