Your Heart’s Desire

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12

How are you today?

I hope you’ve woken up rested, refreshed and satisfied after your Christmas celebrations.

But if, instead, you’re feeling dazed and depleted and maybe a little bit empty, you are not alone.

The holidays are a huge source of stress; a seemingly never-ending torrent of buying and wrapping and eating and drinking and binging and networking and connecting and partying; with concomitant unceasing demands and obligations and expectations.

Likely you’ve spent the last several weeks hustling around fulfilling everyone else’s wants. Tending to the needs of others.

Maybe you think you’re done.

Except that you’re not.

It’s today. Another day. And while you can, perhaps, distract yourself for a little while longer, ringing in the New Year, the day is coming soon when you will face the expanse – or the abyss – of the year ahead.

So today’s question is not about all those other folks you’ve been attending to. It’s about you.

What do you want?

What do you really want?

Not what you think you should want; or what you think you’re expected to want. Not what your father wanted; or what you’re mother thought would be right. Not what your partner or boyfriend or girlfriend or neighbors want. Not what your clients want. Not what some well-intentioned teacher or guidance counselor wanted for you.

Rather, what is it you want ? For yourself? Right here? Right now?

The folks who read this blog are, by their very nature, givers. The challenge for givers is receiving. The challenge for givers is getting quiet enough to listen to the still small voice that speaks to us of our heart’s desires. The challenge for givers is giving to ourselves what it is we really, really want.

Because, we presume that what we want is bad. Or selfish. Or self-centered.

Or more frequently, we forget what we wanted. We become numb to our heart’s desire.

So on the threshold of a new year, I have a challenge for you: Set aside some time just for you; and spend some time asking yourself (and perhaps journaling about) these questions:

  • If I could make my life any way I wanted it, what would my ‘perfect’ day look like? My ‘perfect’ week? What time would I get up? What would I wear? Who would I spend my time with? What work would I do? What projects would I pursue? What travels would I take? What would my ‘perfect’ life look like?
  • If this were my very last year on earth, what would I do? Would I stay in the same relationship; would I keep the same job; would I hang out with the same people; would I go the same places; would I do things the way I’m doing them right now?
  • If money were no object, if I won the $30 million dollar Powerball, what would I do? After I bought all the toys I wanted, where would I go; who would I go with; where would I spend my time; what experiences would I want to create; what legacy would I want to leave?

Because here’s what’s true: Those whispers that are in our hearts, those dreams that we have, those projects we want to create, those places we want to go, the empires we want to build, the impact we want to make… they’re not random musings; they’re not accidents. They are the call of our Spirit, the Divine within us, showing us – telling us – the way. Life's enjoyment

So think. Write. Draw. Free flow. Tear down the boundaries. No limitations. Let your imagination run wild.

And then get busy. Because, that’s what you want. That’s what you really want.

That’s your heart’s desire.

Why You Don’t Want Blockbuster Success

As the flakes began to fall, I remembered all those days of yore when we’d be hurrying out to Blockbuster™ to stock up on movies in the teeth of the oncoming storm. (And, of course, that concomitant stack of DVDs on the kitchen counter that likely was overdue.)

No more. Streaming video from Amazon™ now. Whenever and wherever we want it. blockbuster1

And Blockbuster™… is gone. Because they believed, as the dominant player and market maker, that their business model would last forever; that the status quo was too powerful to fail; that they could never get hurt; that they would always reign supreme.

They got complacent.

And complacency is bad.

  • In business
  • In finance
  • In marriage
  • In health and wellness

Complacency is about disinterest, arrogance, indifference, lack of foresight, and lack of care.

It’s about inattention.

It’s about ignoring what is.

You don’t want to get complacent. Because when you get complacent, the rug will surely be pulled out from under you.

I have suffered massive business turmoil and relational upheaval when I’ve taken my eye off the ball.

You want to keep your eye on the ball.

It’s ok to be discontent. It means you know you can do better, be stronger, go farther, up your game. Often we need the nudge of discontent to push us and move us beyond our comfort zones; to dislodge us from the status quo.

It’s ok too to be content. In fact, it’s good to be content.

Contentment is a deep knowing that the work you have been doing, the investments you’ve been making, and the attention you’ve been giving, have yielded fruit, are paying dividends.

Contentment is confidence, suredness, and groundedness; satisfaction with a job well-done.

Contentment brings gratitude.

But whether from a place of discontent or a place or contentment, the essential questions are always:

  • How can I continue to nurture my career
  • How can I continue to grow my business
  • How can I pay even more attention to my clients
  • How can I delight my customers even more
  • How can I learn more and know more and think clearer
  • How can I take my relationship to the next level
  • How can I take care of my family even better
  • How can I get healthier and fitter and even more vital
  • How can I give back even more
  • How can I play even bigger

Complacency will never come and bite you when you ask these questions… and keep asking them.

The best is here and now. And the best is yet to come. Travel that edge and you will know what it is to be alive.

Stay away from Blockbuster ‘success.’


The Real Guide to Avoiding The Cliff

In life itself, there is a time to seek inner peace, a time to rid oneself of tension and anxiety. The moment comes when the striving must let up, when wisdom says, “Be quiet.” You’ll be surprised how the world keeps on revolving without your pushing it. And you’ll be surprised how much stronger you are the next time you decide to push.”

— John Gardner

I pushed the throttle forward and hurtled even faster toward the cliff.

Then I stopped.

Not because I really wanted to. But because I had promised myself I would.

I returned once again, last week, to the Weston Priory, nestled on a remote hilltop in northern Vermont. To rest; to re-create; to renew. (I set as my intention to do this four times a year; this year I made it there three times.)

Going completely off the grid to a monastery, especially at this time of year, can be tough duty for an achievement and adrenaline junkie like me.

But what I know for sure is that the stopping is essential to the going.

We – all of us – are bombarded by inputs, and demands and expectations. We’re inundated with voice mails and text messages, emails and faxes. Everyone and everything competes for our attention. And with our “smart” phones, we’re always “on.”

One day melds into the next as we labor under our self-imposed illusions that if we can but accomplish just a little bit more, pack in just a little bit more, respond to just one more request, satisfy just one more customer, cart the child just one more place, buy just one more gift, send just one more card, then we’ll be able to rest.

Culturally – and individually – we’re weary. Add in the holidays – and societal tragedies – and, at the end of the day, most of us feel worn pretty thin.

We forget how important – how essential – renewal is.

Rest days are a key component of high-altitude mountaineering. Recovery is a critical piece of athletic training.

Bears hibernate; trees go dormant. The natural world knows how to rest. The seasons have a rhythm to them. We not so much.

We keep on pushing on.

I finished on wonderful book while on retreat: Life Entrepreneurs by Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek. It resonates so profoundly with the work I do: empowering extraordinary living. Its essential message: “We can fashion a life that is purposeful, self-directed and aligned with who we truly are – providing us with opportunities for challenge, contribution, and fulfillment.” We get to design our lives. We get to choose.

It’s a hard-driving book filled with fascinating profiles of highly successful, remarkably creative leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs. It explores all of the nuances of extraordinary lives. And it captures a core component of success, one overlooked by nearly all gurus, coaches, and achievement “experts:” the need to stop; to renew; to re-create.

Speed kills. “We ignore the basics of our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being at our own peril.” Make renewal “a cherished habit,” the authors say.

Not all of us need to go off the grid to a monastery for four days at a time (although I highly recommend it!). But there are practices and “habits” that you could explore that might allow for some breathing room. Here are some things that you might want to try:

  • Turn off your electronics for a day (or even just an hour!)
  • Explore a regular mediation practice
  • Take a yoga class
  • Do some aerobic exercise every day
  • Walk in the woods or along the shore
  • Avoid your email in-box in the morning
  • Work in block time to avoid the interruptions
  • Don’t multi-task (it doesn’t really work anyway)
  • Take regular vacations, long weekends, and mental health days
  • Learn to say ‘no’ more often

Even though this time of year often feels frantic and out of control, even though we’re fond of telling ourselves that we’ll get to the important stuff after the holidays, there really is no better time to pull back to nurture yourself. No one else will do it for you. (Check out the recent talk I gave on this.)

The authors of Life Entrepreneurs remind us what John Muir once said: “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

When you go in, you’ll find how much more there is of you to step out with – to share with the world.

You can avoid the cliff.

All you need to do is stop.








The great “cliff” face of Mt. Hunter in the Alaska Range.


This is an encore of a post first published on December 27, 2012. With thanks and gratitude for the wonderful words of wisdom from by friend Gregg Vanourek.






How To Crash and Burn By Year’s End

December can be a crazy month. It can feel like an energy vortex sucking us forward at warp speed only to dump us out breathless and exhausted sometime around the end of January. It’s pretty easy to wear yourself out so that there’s nothing left at all.

If you want to crash and burn, I can teach you how!!! (Based on graduate-level experience!). crash_n_burn

Here’s what you should do:

  • Go to every holiday party
  • Wander aimlessly in a crowded, noisy mall
  • Buy token gifts because you ‘should’
  • Decorate until you drop
  • Surf the net for all the deals
  • Don’t miss any sales
  • Buy lots of ‘toys’ so you’ll be loved
  • Max out all your credit cards
  • Drink a lot
  • Eat a lot
  • Say ‘yes’ to every invitation
  • Send a ton of cards
  • Network until you drop
  • Bake a lot, especially if you need to lose some weight
  • Work late every single night
  • Drive every deal to conclusion
  • Update your ‘status’ often
  • Tweet frequently
  • Link-In a lot
  • Put your ‘diet’ off until ‘after’ the holidays
  • ‘Think about’ a fitness program… in the New Year
  • Surround yourself with chaos and with noise

There is, of course, another way. But it requires some deliberation and some courage.

  • Say ‘no’ more than you say ‘yes’
  • If you think you ‘should,’ you probably shouldn’t
  • Think gifts of service and of presence rather than more ‘stuff’
  • Connect deeply with those who matter most
  • Guard zealously your health and wellness
  • Beat your neighbors to the punch and join (and go to) the gym today
  • Protect your boundaries
  • Take lots of time for you
  • Know – with certainty – that, if it doesn’t all get done, no one dies

December is a wonderful month to get quiet. To reflect… on what went well… on where we could improve.

December is a wonderful month to plan for the year ahead.

December is a time to be present, to share ever more deeply the gifts that are yours alone to share; to celebrate the birth of Love into the world; to mark the return of Light.

Or, for sure, you can crash and burn.

You get to choose.