Avoid The Shallows In 2017

I was jarred by his words.

I had stopped along the road to chat with my neighbor. Sean was building a stone wall across the front of his property. He had been at it for months; and it was quite beautiful to behold.

He wiped the sweat from his forehead with his dirty hands. “I’m building it to last for 400 years,” he said. “Maybe more.”

400 years? I find it challenging to think about a single day. And planning for the next quarter or just the year ahead? That involves (what I think of as real) heavy lifting.

But isn’t creating something that lasts what we all really crave?

There’s a reason that Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life has sold 32 million copies in more than 50 languages.

We seek purpose.

We want our efforts to have meaning and import.

We want to create a lasting impact in the world.

We want to be remembered.

We want to leave a legacy.

Yet, most of us live out our days reacting to other people’s emergencies, floating across the surface of things, dipping into social media, surfing the web, ticking off endless to-do lists, and using our email inboxes to drive us until we drop.

We’re interrupted or cause ourselves to be interrupted every 3 minutes of the day.

We’ve allowed ourselves to become addicted to the forward motion; we keep on going like hamsters on a wheel.

We’ve allowed ourselves to become addicted to the stimulation and outside input, checking and re-checking our smartphones and our tablets and our emails; responding incessantly to the phone calls and messages and notifications and alerts. Overwhelmed and inundated by the expectations and the deadlines and the demands, we endeavor to pay attention to everything. But succeed only at dwelling in a state of continuous partial attention.

We spend our days – we subsist – in the shallows.

We’ve lost the capacity to do deep work, legacy work, work that lasts.

So my challenge for you as you stand on the threshold of this New Year is to consider Sean’s wall. What work will you do that will last 400 years?

  • Perhaps it’s not about building a stone wall; but rather mending the wall that grown around a relationship.
  • Perhaps it’s the book that you’ve told yourself you’ll write. Someday. Or the art that you want to create; or that song that’s been waiting in your heart for decades to be sung.
  • Perhaps it’s about that experience – that magic moment – you’ve been meaning to create for your child or your partner or your spouse.
  • Perhaps it’s about finally taking the leap into that new career or job that you know will touch the lives of others for generations to come.
  • Perhaps it’s about committing to simple acts of kindness that, like pebbles dropped into a pond, ripple out to touch shores you cannot see.

Whatever it might be, commit this year to move beyond the shallows.

  • Get clear again about what you value most.
  • Connect with your heart (because your heart always knows).
  • Create a clear plan for yourself (understanding that your inbox is someone else’s plan).
  • Reclaim and protect your focus.
  • Abandon once and for all the myth of multi-tasking.
  • Set aside dedicated time to do your legacy work.
  • Have the courage to say “no” to what doesn’t serve what matters most.

The days may be long; but the years are short.

What will you create this year that will stand the test of time?

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When the time is right, when you’re ready to create intentionally the work and the life you absolutely love, let’s connect. Email me: walt@walthampton.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Turn Again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice.

T.S. Eliot

It’s dark. Really dark. And cold.

The sun, even when it comes up here on the 52nd parallel, skitters across the southern horizon. And disappears.

Yet, this week, we celebrate the light.

It is the turning point.

From the very earliest of times, before tribe or tradition, we have confronted the darkness with trepidation – the darkness of the night, the darkness of our souls – and railed against it. Through liturgy and ritual and celebration, we connected with the ancient rhythms of the earth to welcome light – and hope – back into the world.

For a fraction of a moment this week, the earth stopped – and shifted on its axis – and turned again toward the sun.

It is the turning point.

In the busyness of our frantic, constantly connected and over-stimulated lives, we can miss this moment. It is easy to forget why we run around and string lights and light candles and wrap presents and gather together – and in the process end up empty and depleted and sad. It is easy to forget why we celebrate.

We celebrate the light. We celebrate in the deep knowing that the light always returns. We celebrate that the light always triumphs over the darkness.

Take a moment to stop this week. Reconnect with the ground – and with the Ground of All Being. Feel the earth turn back to the sun, back to the light.

It is the turning point.

Then decide.

What will you turn toward in the days and months ahead? What light will you discover in your life? What light will you shine in the lives of others?

Be that light.

And celebrate.

It is the turning point.

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

A Fork For You?

In the crazy busyness of the holiday season, it is easy to lose touch with the natural rhythm of things.

December 21 marks the Winter Solstice.

One of the most poignant moments in Paul Winter’s annual Consort, by which he celebrates the Solstice, is his soaring piece, The Turning Point Suite. Begun in a darkened cathedral with a solo clarinet in a far-removed loft, it culminates in a full symphonic cacophony of sound and light… marking that moment when the earth seemingly pauses, then turns once again toward the sun with its promise of renewal and new life. Screenshot 2015-10-31 08.03.53

Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere stand on the threshold of that Solstice moment.

Will you mark it as your turning point? Your defining moment? The moment when you say “yes” to the full expression of your life? Are you ready to embrace a new standard for your career; for your business and your finances; for your relationships and your health and wellness? Are you ready to step up your game? Are you ready to commit to a life that is extraordinary? That leaves a legacy for generations?

Or will you let it slide by lost in the holiday noise?

We can make our lives soaring symphonies… or not.

We get to choose.

It is the turning point. Will it be yours?

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A Solstice invitation: Join a community of like-minded people who want more. Coaching, mentorship, resources to take you the distance. The Summit Mastermind. Check it out HERE!

Go Sit On The Stairs

That’s what we used to say to our kids when they were acting out. “You, go sit on the stairs and think about how you should behave.” It was our form of “time out.”

We all need some form of time out. Especially at this time of the year.

I’m just back from a time out. It was astoundingly restorative.

A colleague of mine invited me to join him as his guest for two days with his mastermind group, a small, elite collection of entrepreneurs and business professionals. Two days off the grid, away from emails and phone calls and text messages and alerts. Two days of real focus. Two days of brainstorming, troubleshooting, and collaborating. Two days generating powerful new ways of working in the world.

I railed against the invitation at first. I had so much on my plate. Appointments and conferences. Clients and a community to serve. A website nearly done. A launch I care about deeply. I couldn’t “afford” to take the time, I told myself.

Then I grabbed hold of my bad self. What would I tell you?

I’d tell you that working on your business is every bit as important as working in your business, if not more so. That stepping back from your work on a regular basis allows you to bring perspective to it; and enables you to come back to it renewed and revitalized. That nurturing yourself, allowing yourself some space, gives you the opportunity to re-charge and then return to serve in the world in a much more powerful and effective way.

I’d tell you that by stepping out of the fray and surrounding yourself with like-minded entrepreneurs and business professionals who want for you, who have your back, who cheer for your success re-invigorates you; that by tapping into the resources of a collective intelligence and wisdom is the most creative, visionary and dynamic way to take your own work to a whole new level.

I’d tell you that there is no better way to enter a New Year, no better way to honor yourself and the work you do, no better way to become more resourceful for the people you are meant to serve, than to take the time – the dedicated time – to rest, renew and re-create yourself; and from that place design with care and intent what the road ahead will be for you and for those you care for. screenshot-2016-12-07-12-02-19

I had gotten myself into a bad state: Frustrated by projects and caught in the weeds. I told my bad self: “You, go sit on the stairs. Think about how you want to behave!”

Two days. Energy, vision, creativity, resilience restored.

This can be such a manic time of year. A New Year awaits you. Your clients, your customers, and those you love need you. Your very best you.

Take a time out.

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We’ve doing a free webinar training next week: How To Make 2017 Your Best Year Ever Without Stress or Overwhelm and Without Losing Focus and Momentum. It’s a great opportunity to take the time to mindfully create what you most want in the year ahead. Please join us. Go HERE to register and reserve your spot.

 

The Vortex Is Here

It’s December. And we’re being pulled into the vortex of time. The maelstrom is all around us! Can you feel it?

Perhaps it’s just me. But after Halloween, the year just seems to accelerate. After Thanksgiving, the days move forward at warp speed. The commitments and the demands and the lists and the expectations and the projects that need to be done – have to get done – before the end of the year seem to mount logarithmically. And then there are the card lists and the gift lists and the shopping and the holiday parties… .

It’s enough to make one want to jump ship… .

What to do?

Wrong question.

The question is what not to do.

The way out of the vortex – the only way – is the simplest and the hardest thing of all (at least it is for me). The only way out is to say “no.”

Saying “no” is not news and it’s not rocket science. All of the leadership and success books tell us that it is fundamental to our sanity and, paradoxically, a key to achieving our goals.

There is an article in Success Magazine entitled Actively Do Nothing. “People could improve their mental and physical health as well as their relationships by carving out a portion of their day to do nothing,” the article states.

Jack Canfield in his book The Success Principals recommends creating a “stop-doing”or “don’t do” list.

Ann and I met a woman at the gym a few months ago. We invited her to one of our Denali slide show presentations. Her response: “Thank you. But I ‘don’t do’ evening commitments.” We were really impressed by that.

So why is saying “no” so hard? Certainly, we’re conditioned from very early on that “no” is not the right answer. As time goes on, we also begin to layer on our own assumptions – whether true or not – about what others expect of us. Sometimes, I suspect, saying “yes” is just a habit. (I said yes to a commitment recently without even stopping to realize I would be out of the country during the time I had committed!) And for me, there is a healthy dose of narcissistic self-importance that loves to believe that somehow my presence is essential or that I am the only one who can do something.

So as the vortex swirls, I’m working on saying “no” more often.

I’ve started by asking myself whether a project or an invitation is one that I “should” do or accept rather than one I “want” to do or accept. I’m working at eliminating the “shoulds.”

Saying no to the non-essential allows us to be more fully present to what is most important. By doing less, we can pay closer attention to what is essential. And as The Little Prince reminds us, “what is essential is invisible to the eye.” It takes time to see.

The Carmelite monk William McNamara writes,

“We are not really practical, and we shall get nowhere, we shall never find life, life will escape us, unless we learn not to always be bustling about – unless we learn to be still, to let things happen around us, to wait, listen, receive, contemplate.”

“One final word on the subject of time,” McNamara says: screenshot-2016-11-30-10-55-31

“I suggest that we stop doing half the work that presently consumes us. Then let us attend to the remaining half wholeheartedly, with contemplative vision and creative love. I stake the authenticity of our lives and the effectiveness of our work on this radical shift.”

I described the vortex to a friend today as a giant flushing toilet bowl.

Not a great place to end up.

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Go HERE for 7 simple practices that will make life a whole lot saner.