Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Step Out of Your Ego Box - Say "Hi"

When was the last time you really met someone new and felt a good connection? When I say that, I’m not talking about anything weird – I’m talking about a person or group in your life that has changed it for the better. That could be a friend, a relationship, a family member or a complete stranger. Many times? No times? That leads me into the point of my blog and followup question – if you said “a long time ago,” or “never,” when was the last time you started a conversation with a complete stranger?

Getting there now? Okay, so it’s about taking the challenge of meeting someone new. See, I travel a lot, consulting with a few different industries ranging from homebuilding to yoga to NASCAR. That’s a pretty DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED set of people – yoga and NASCAR. Not two words that I would lump together, minus a really interesting Halloween costume perhaps. The totally awesome (pardon my “eighties-ness”here) part of this, is that I meet so many new, different, cool-in-their-own skin people every week.
Not only does everyone have a story, but meeting these new people makes this huge global world seem tinier by the minute.

For instance, I just subbed a private yoga instruction class for a friend, and I happened to be teaching the mom of a playmate in my daughter’s new pre-K class (the yoga class was in a remote location). I’ve also met NASCAR folks who went to high school with college friends from 10 states away; CEOs on planes who were looking for a place to put money (ie, thus supporting a team I worked with); and just plain new friends.
It helps that I like to think everyone is a friend, no matter what happens to push us away or closer together in the universe.

Your world is as small or big as your connections to other human beings, and it all starts with a “hi.” I rarely miss an opportunity in an airport, on a plane, in a store or at an event to open my mouth and talk to someone I’ve never met before. Let’s face it – yes, it takes energy…but how boring and solitary would your life and/or your travels be without new relationships?

As long as you choose to treat these new friends with care – ie, it’s a FRIENDSHIP, not a guarantee of business, or time, or energy for your purposes or ulterior motives – usually it will end up with great return. That might mean them suggesting a business contact for you (or giving you their business themselves/for their own company), or just mean a cool new friend to visit the next time you’re in _____ (insert city here). Oh, and it might be close – like just saying hi to your next door neighbor every once in a while.

Because after all, we live in our own little world sometimes, with our own challenges and opportunities. It’s nice to open your eyes a little wider and branch out. A good friend of mine once said, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid/tired/angry/hurt/bored?” So stop making excuses, go say hi to someone you’ve never met. I guarantee that you’ll do nothing but gain in the end.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Loss is Gain

I flew back from my grandmother’s funeral yesterday. She was the last of my grandparents to leave this world and venture on into the next, and that was a special kind of moment for me. Not only was she part of the “Greatest Generation” in our time, but she was also what I would consider my biggest loss.

My entire life, she was my inspiration – one of the first female Marines who joined in WWII, she was a trailblazer from the start. A teen model, she was a “looker” until well in her 80s – with a shock of red hair and a flair for the dramatic, in dress, jewels and attitude.

I sat on the flight home and reflected on my loss – what an amazing person, how could I ever contribute her style of love and devotion to her seven grandkids…the ones who adored her, couldn’t wait to run out of the car at Dahl House, our beloved family retreat, to join her on the dock to catch a big Chesapeake Bay Jimmy?
Then I remembered that loss is always gain.

For the last several years, Gram was in an assisted living facility. Slowly, she went from being an independent woman with a fiery disposition and a lot of love and thought for others, to being dependent on those others to take care of her. She had quality of life, yes – but she wasn’t the free-spirited, spunky Gram who fed me Tang, Snickers bars and sugar cereal when my mom wasn’t looking.

Her freedom came this past week – now, I like to think of her wading around in the water “upstairs” with my granddad, then dressing to the nines to go out to “the Club” with him for dinner and drinks. They are both youthful, happy and bright. How does that translate to me, or you, and loss?

Well, think of it this way…when was the last time that you lost something – a person, a beloved object, or something that you had centered yourself around for some time. That could also mean a job that you toiled at for years that resulted in a change, or a divorce, or a move. At first, the loss is poignant, stabbing and throughout your whole body. How can you survive without ____?

After some time though, that stabbing pain subsides, and you start to focus in on growth. What was the meaning of that loss? If it was a person (as in my case), what did you learn from them that you can pass on into others (or how did they inspire you to ignite change?) Ghandi had a great saying, “Be the change you want to see in this world.” If it was a person or thing that changed you, when you lose it, become that change in order to grow.

I know with my Gram, she was a spitfire. She was way ahead of her time, and she was part of the “bleeding edge” of women who weren’t afraid to challenge social norms, nor “bust through” the cultural mindsets we fall into so easily. I consider it not only a duty, but an absolute honor, to tell her story to others. She inspired me to work with women in motorsports, something that today is on the barrier of entry to norms. I’m also a pretty fiercely independent female, sans the red hair.

The best thing I learned, that is a huge source of comfort to me now, that loss is definitely gain. Her stories will inspire thousands of others through me – I wouldn’t have it any other way. So what have you lost lately, that you can turn into a positive?

If you haven’t had a significant loss in your life, the takeaway can be as simple as just recognizing it when you do. After all, life is all about knowledge and growth through coping with loss. Just gain a little understanding of yourself!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Setting Your Intention

Okay, so I might look like this uber-motivated, filled-to-the-brim-with-positivity, energy-inducing ball of fire. However, I’d love to set it straight that I’m actually just as challenged as the next girl when it comes to “making the work magic happen.”

Who hasn’t been that person that starts something with full zest and gusto, only to let it go after reaching that first obstacle; or letting the fear that is inside all of us, grab hold and shrink our power? You may have goals – possibly even put on paper in the form of a basic intention. I’ll ask you this though- if you’ve written (or even just verbally expressed) your goals, how many times do you revisit them and ask yourself what you’ve done to achieve them?

I am a huge pen-to-the-paper writer. If I don’t write it down in a notebook, I can’t cross it off to say that it’s done. A little OCD? Maybe. It also forces me to focus on my intention (notice I say intention, rather than goals). Again, anyone can set goals – but how many people set their INTENTION each day?

As a part-time yoga instructor, it’s something I teach people at the beginning of each class. We set our intention for our practice – whether that be letting go of stress; not thinking about outside distractions or “to do” lists; dropping a habit that doesn’t serve us, etc. It’s easily something that spills over into life. Once we train ourselves to set an intention for an hour class, we can move on to set an intention for the day. If that pans out (or even if it doesn’t, who cares?), we’ve gained trust in ourselves to continue lengthening that time frame.


1) Write it down. Somewhere. Anywhere. It can be a dedicated notebook; a sticky note on your bathroom mirror; your fridge; or your hand. Set your intention for the day and remind yourself of that intention until you can cross it off.

2)Intentions aren’t goals. Intentions are much more meaningful – a practice of placing your passion and efforts in a place where you want them most, helping and serving others in order to achieve. There is trust, loss, gain, courage and fire in intentions.

3)FIND your intention. If that means you have to start with a goal, and then “back into” your intention, that’s fine. As in, state your goal first – “I want to make tons of money.” Okay, rephrase with intent: “I will provide for my family so that we will be financially independent – with no worries about money, ever.” See what I mean? Strong phrase!

4)The Stones said it best – “you can’t always get what you want…you get what you need.” You will find that you gravitate to the intentions you want most…and then feel failure when they aren’t achieved. Try to look at the partial success you might have reached with that intention, and then realize that it was the universe giving you what you NEEDED.

5)Start small – baby steps are good. As above, set your intentions in small increments and pace them out. Set an intention for an hour. Then a day. Then a month. Then a year. We call it “living in the present” for a reason – you’ve got to cross the molehills in the day to day before you ever conquer the mountain.

So the next time you check yourself on the “goal setting for 2011,” try to flip it on yourself. Take those goals or statements that you made and make them stronger by placing intention around them. Go getcha some!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Ran a 5K

You might be saying, “Wow, good for you!” Or, “Um, thanks for sharing?” So why is this relevant to business or to making yourself better?

Commitment. You see, I’ve had trouble with it in the past, much like most of us. I mean, who hasn’t had that project they have worked on for months – and you get to the point where you just want to pitch it out the window? Or frustration with a goal – weight loss maybe; eating healthier; quitting smoking; spending more time with the kids. You set the expectation that you’ll be diligent and regimented, and then when the regimentation is too much of a schedule, it falls to pieces. Failure in your own eyes, right?

I’m here to tell you – let it go. Why do I bring up the 5k? For the sheer fact that I had absolutely no desire to run it. It was a Sunday morning after a long Saturday with my family – my muscles hurt, I overdid it the day before, it was a holiday weekend, and the back deck of my in-laws’ house was too appealing to watch the sun rise. Whhhhhyyyy meeee…why did I commit to running a race, where I knew there would be a bunch of high school cross country runners who had legs up to their armpits, running like Steve Prefontaine for a PR?

I got over it, thanks to commitment. Something overcame me – it wasn’t positive energy, it wasn’t some sign from God – it was just a gentle, pushing drive to put my running clothes and shoes on. Going through the motions of tying my laces, I knew it was what was written for the day for me. The simple, sheer process of accepting that it was what I had to do that morning – made me let go. No pressure to run fast, no expectations or judgments of anyone around me.

So, my finish? I ran it alongside my father in law (well, for a little while, then he smoked me by 3 minutes – quite rightly, as he’s a diligent runner!) I was awake for the day, refreshed, and proud of myself for just merely taking the small steps to do it. No thoughts of the future or the next race; no nags of the past finishes. It was written.

The next time you’ve overwhelmed yourself, whether in business or in your personal life, just let it go. Make sure you accept what you have to do today first – then enjoy what you’re doing. Once you really enjoy it, you’re on the road to finding what you love. Those little commitments sometimes turn into big passions.

Sizzle on! DKC