It’s Time For A Different Map

I was carried away by the sound. Beautiful beyond words. Beautiful beyond anything I had ever heard.

Each note, each passage, more glorious, more magnificent than the last

A soaring concerto.

A virtuoso violinist.

I was the commencement speaker at a high school music academy. And this – this masterpiece – was the evening’s prelude… played by a graduating senior.

I leaned over in my chair on the stage and whispered to the assistant director sitting next to me. “What music school is he going to?”

She frowned and rolled her eyes. “He’s not. His parents want him to study economics.”

I was stunned. And sad.

What the world would never hear.

Even more, I knew how the story would unfold.

You see, many of my clients seek me out for career coaching. Quite a few of them are in their 30’s although some are in their 40’s or 50’s. They’ve gone to great colleges, graduating at the top of their classes (and have a lot of debt). They’ve gone on to graduate school, business school or professional school… and excelled. They’ve landed the plum job with a great salary… and a lot of prestige.

And they’re miserable. They hate their lives. They don’t know how they got to where they are. They can’t figure out how to break free.

They don’t have a clue as to where they lost the path, where they lost their way. photo(2)

For the young violinist, it was the moment he walked off the stage.

Because he had the wrong map.

In a recent article, Dick Bolles, career guru and author of the ten million copy best seller What Color Is Your Parachute says that following your dreams still matters; love still matters; love of what you do.

Benjamin Bloom at the University of Chicago studied 120 athletes, artists and scholars in order to determine the ingredients of greatness. He controlled for intelligence and family background and all sorts of variables… and what he discovered was that there was only one common denominator for greatness: extraordinary drive.

Extraordinary drive fueled by passion.

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself,” said Abraham Maslow.

I asked a coaching client today how he ended up a lawyer rather then pursuing the graduate studies in philosophy that he so loved.

“People told me that I needed to be realistic,” he said.

Too many parents, following a well-worn map and pressured by cultural expectations, push their young adults into a college paradigm that is economically broken, into hollow, empty fields that masquerade as ‘real’ jobs , only to end up seeing them unemployed, in debt and living in their basements. Or worse, to see them on my doorstep – after the years have dulled their eyes and sucked their souls – empty, sad and lifeless.

Despite our best intentions, it is a map that leads to nowhere good.

Those who read me often know that I am passionate about life-long learning and about success.

But if you’re going to climb that ladder of success, you better make pretty damn sure it’s against the right wall.

And the only way to do that is to start from a place of love.

Deep love.

Me Talk Dirty Sometimes

I was working this past week with a private client of mine, a very talented and prosperous wealth manager. She’s been working through an extremely complicated tax matter for a client of hers. She began telling me how “horrible” she’s been at certain aspects of the project, how she’s “screwed up” certain parts of the file, and how “overwhelmed” she’s been with all the “problems” that she’s been faced with.

In my most sonorous coaching voice, I said, “Well that’s a pretty dramatic story.”

Which, thankfully, stopped her dead in her tracks.

“What would it be like to tell a different story, a more empowering story, a story that casts you as a more resourceful professional?” I asked.

“Well, I’d feel much better,” she answered.

Of course she would. And she’d be more effective too.

What’s interesting is that, as entrepreneurs and professionals, we are often harder on ourselves than we are on anyone else. We hold ourselves to incredibly high standards; even higher than those we hold for our people. We demand of ourselves sustained, uninterrupted peak performance. We are highly intolerant of our own weaknesses; and unforgiving of our shortcomings. We drive ourselves longer, harder and faster than we would ever reasonably expect of others. Dirty

We tell stories about ourselves, and use language to describe ourselves that we would rarely say out loud.

We focus on what’s not working rather than on what’s working.

We focus on our weaknesses rather than our our strengths.

Yes, we talk dirty sometimes. About ourselves.

Stop it. Stop it now.

The two primary questions that confront every single one of us are: “Am I enough?” and “Will I be loved?”

No one escapes. No one. Not presidents; not prime ministers; not kings.

And at one time or another, every single one of us wonders whether we’re just a fraud in the world, playing some imaginary role; and we worry that it will just be a matter of time before someone finds us out.

But knowing that these feelings of inadequacy are universal; knowing we’re not alone; we have a choice.

We can focus on the good.

We can focus on what’s working well.

We can use more powerful, more resourceful language.

We can choose not to talk dirty about ourselves.

In the Book Yourself Solid® community, Michael Port has banished the words “struggle” and “overwhelm” because the words themselves create a negative story.

Perhaps:

  • Problems are challenges.
  • Mistakes are lessons.
  • Dangers are opportunities.

So how do we become more resourceful with our language?

We practice. Just like with anything else. Like strengthening a muscle. Like playing an instrument. Like learning Spanish.

We practice. We catch ourselves in the act. (Or your coach catches you!)

We practice. We fail. We start again.

We tell better stories. We use better language.

It’s a (life-long) work in process.

Me talk dirty sometimes. You do too.

Let’s stop it.

Now.

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When you’re ready to create a new story, email me: walt@walthampton.com

Why You Need White Space

He was overwhelmed. Stressed out. “Slammed,” he said.

Of course, my client, a young lawyer, is not alone. The Economist reports that, in a recent study, 45% of executives cite lack of time as their biggest challenge in achieving their career goals.

I looked at a screenshot of his Google Calendar: A sea of colors; back-to-back appointments all week long. WhiteSpace

No breaks; no respite.

No white space.

White space is the key to creating a saner life.

In my weekly planning, I deliberately create lots of white space on my calendar.

I create white space because sometimes things take longer than I think they will.

I create white space because unexpected interruptions crop up.

I always leave a big block of white space on either side of a coaching appointment. Beforehand, I want to have time to review my notes and think about my client; what we worked on in the last call; and where we want to go. Afterwards, I want time to finish up my notes, reflect on the work we’ve done, and consider where we need to go next.

White space allows us the time to:

  • Think
  • Reflect
  • Create
  • Read
  • Listen to music
  • Hydrate
  • Enjoy some quiet
  • Breathe
  • Be

White space is a powerful time management secret.

With white space, we’re not as frenetic. We slow down. We’re more mindful. We’re more aware of the beauty and the majesty that surrounds us. We’re able to connect more deeply with others. We’re able to recognize what’s merely urgent; and what’s truly important. We’re more resilient and resourceful. And happier too.

If you really want a life that is rich and full and deeply satisfying; if you really want to serve the people you’re meant to serve; if you really want to make an impact in the world, then create more white space!

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AND if you’d like help with this, I have a powerful system. Email me today! walt@walthampton.com

Running In The Rain

It was raining. Hard. So hard that we had trouble seeing across our front lawn. Oh, and it was blowing, splattering against the windows.

We finished our coffee, laced up our shoes, and went out for our run.

Because we’re runners. And runners run. It’s a disciple, a practice. Something we do every day, regardless of the weather. Because we so value the outcome: our health and wellness.

Of course, it would have been easy not to run. The storm would have been a plausible excuse. But, you see, we live in Ireland. And if we decided not to run every time it rained, well, we likely wouldn’t run at all.

“What is easy to do is easy not to do,” Jim Rohn once said. Screenshot 2016-08-03 12.37.34

True for runners.

True for most things in business and in life.

For the most part, the steps necessary to create a healthy life, a great relationship and a successful business are pretty simple.

Easy to do; easy not to do.

All too often folks allow the circumstances and conditions of their day to dictate their action… or their inaction.

Having daily practices – non-negotiable things you do no matter what – changes everything. You make steady progress toward your goals because, every day, you’re doing the things you need to do… regardless of the “weather.”

Cathedrals are built one stone at a time; marathons get finished one step at a time; books get written one page at a time.

With discipline comes freedom.

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When you’re ready to create the powerful practices that will take you to your most cherished dreams and goals, email me: walt@walthampton.com