Build Your Leaders

Archive for January, 2010

Grieving an Unlived Life

January 31st, 2010

Eavesdropping at Starbuck’s. It’s 6:30 in the morning, and I’m sitting in a brown velvet lounge chair in Starbuck’s, not ten minutes from the prep school I attended as a child. Seated around me are five men. Starbucks appears to be their weekday ritual. They sip coffee, read the Atlanta Constitution, and enjoy each other’s company.

I study the men. They are about my age, but that’s where the similarities end. Each is dressed in business attire; I am in jeans. I listen. They talk of Atlanta real estate, children, and high school sports, subjects I know little about.

I am a stranger; they form a fraternity, and I don’t fit in. Married, with children, their interests, and perhaps their values, are different than mine. Part of their lives, such as being fathers, I envy. Other parts, I don’t.

Observing these men, I feel sadness. I was raised to live these men’s lives, but my life took a different turn. I grieve the unlived life. At the same time, I am grateful for the life I now enjoy. It fits me; it feeds me. It feels authentic and real.

I am reminded that life is a trade-off. We make one choice; we leave another behind.

It’s now 7:45, and I’m meeting my goddaughter for breakfast at 8:00. As I leave, I glance back at the group. Another man joins them; he takes my empty seat.

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What’s Your Google Index?

January 24th, 2010

Build your brand by building your Google index. One of my favorite futurists, Faith Popcorn, predicted a trend in 2003 she called “Persona Propaganda.” She said “Google has created the concept of the ‘Public Resume’ – a new kind of pervasive, email-able DigiTruth. Now, everybody can know everything about almost anyone.”

We are using the Web to learn about potential job candidates, customers, consultants, and business partners, and they are using the Web to learn about you.

When was the last time you Googled yourself?  Go to Google, type your name into the window in quotes. What did you find?  If you are like most of us, you didn’t’ find much.

Personal branding guru William Arruda (http://www.reachcc.com) says, “Building an on-line identity is as easy as it is essential. It starts with just one post, one article, or a one-page Web site.”  Here are six of his suggestions on how to get started:

  1. Write articles for on-line portals that relate to your area of expertise or your passions. HR.com, MarketingProfs.com, selfgrowth.com are three of thousands of options.
  2. Submit content to article banks. They will make your articles (along with proper attribution) available to others who are seeking content for their newsletters or Web sites.
  3. Build your own Web site or career portfolio. Yahoo is offering small business owners free, customizable, three-page Web sites. Companies like Brandego will build you a custom career portfolio. Remember, one quality page is going to do a lot more for your brand than ten poorly executed ones.
  4. Create a blog. Blogging gives you an opportunity to express your opinions and will not take up much of your time since posting can be just two or three lines long. But get in now; according to Seth Godin, there’s a new blog every six seconds.
  5. Participate in on-line forums and information exchanges. Share your expertise or passion and increase your visibility at the same time.
  6. Review books at amazon.com and other on-line bookstores and link back to your Web site or blog.

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The Power of Letting Go

January 17th, 2010

Letting go of false beliefs. I heard once that to become who we are we have to let go of who we are not. Like most clever sayings, it is easier said than done.

Gabriel Marchel, in his book Being and Having, laments that our society teaches us how to hold onto and to possess, when it should be teaching us how to let go. We will never live  richer, more authentic, lives until we do, because most of us are stuck in old belief systems that seldom get us what we really want.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to know when to let go. Lecturer, author, and counselor Penny Peirce suggests taking a closer look when we:

Are confused.
Are depressed.
Have no sense of direction.
Have run out of motivation.
Don’t like ourselves.
Feel a sense of urgency all the time.

Are ahead of ourselves and others.
Are overwhelmed and overcrowded.
Are procrastinating.
Are spending time in the past.
Are trying too hard.
Feel no one seems to hear or see us.
Find little of interest.
Have no confidence.
Feel things aren’t fun anymore.
Expect results too soon.
Are compulsive.
Are sure the answer lies in thinking or doing more, better, or differently.

After seeing myself in more than several of Penny Peirce’s guidelines, I listed those belief systems that no longer serve me. Within minutes, my list had grown to ten. I then selected three “biggies” on which to focus my work:

  1. “Doing is better than being.”
  2. “I am not enough.”
  3. “There is not enough.”

I was ready to begin letting go, and to do it I committed to a simple three-step process:

One: Recognize when I am reacting to outdated belief systems. Emotional warning signals include feeling anxious, afraid, indignant, rejected, sorry for myself, ashamed, worried, or confused.

Two: Take a deep belly breath and gently observe what I am doing/feeling without judgment. “Whoops, there I go again.”

Three: Examine what has happened and tell myself the truth.  For example, when I catch myself worrying about money (“there is not enough”), I remind myself that I have plenty of money on which to live, and besides, I can always make more.

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Do What You Love to Do

January 6th, 2010

The perfect business model. Her business model is simple, and yet it makes so much sense:

“We only sell products we love to people we like, in places we want to visit.”

My friend Naomi is a born entrepreneur. Her latest venture is selling beautiful imported shoes, boots, and handbags made by Turkish artists from antique and dowry kilims. Each is a one of a kind piece of wearable art. Naomi discovered her source while traveling in the Middle East, and now she and her sister are selling these items like hotcakes.

“We’re having a ball,” Naomi says. “The best part of the job is how thrilled our customers are when they pick up their purchases. They hug and kiss us, and you ought to read the e-mails they send; they’re heart-warming. I love my job.”

Naomi has found the true secret of success: “Do what you love to do.”

P.S. Here’s Naomi’s website: http://www.dyedinthewooldesigns.com/aboutus.html

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