Butterfly  You botched the interview. You didn’t get into the MBA program at a top-tier university. The promotion you were seeking went to someone else. Things are not going according to the plan and now your life is upside down and you’re walking through molasses. How do you regain balance after disappointment?

What about if you reframed the disappointment as a catalyst to your growth? You could then consider these trying times as an opportunity to become stronger and wiser. I’d like you to consider these four steps toward balance after disappointment:

1. Remain present for the experience

The desire to escape the pain of disappointment is the path of least resistance. Try to remain present. It is more painful in the short run, but in the long run, greater emotional health and vitality will be your reward. I’ve found that the disappointment comes through in waves. The intensity waxes and wanes. By remaining present, you can acknowledge the situation with clarity. Say to yourself, “I am here now. I will not be here forever. This too will pass.”

2. Seek and accept support

If you recognize that you are not alone in the struggle against the pain of disappointment, your challenge becomes less self-centered and more about what it means to be a human being in the year 2015. These are hyper-competitive times. Once you remember that we are all connected to the great mystery of life, you’ll feel less alone and more inclined to accept support from others who also continue the struggle. There are times in your life when you’ve held the lantern in the dark for others, helping to show them the way. Now it’s your turn to be led. No one can take the journey for you, but they can hold your hand and guide you through the darkness into the light.

3. Recognize experience becomes wisdom

When you are in the midst of your challenge, it’s hard to imagine a time when the transformation will be complete and the experience will become wisdom. As long as you feel you’re in transformation, you are not any wiser for it. It is when you are complete with the struggle that you can gain perspective and can then transform the experience into wisdom. You no longer identify with the disappointment. You have distance from your challenge and can now examine it with clarity and perspective. You’ll look back and reflect on your behavior and the results of your actions. Don’t judge them as good or bad. They simply are. Then take that information and catalog it. Now it is in your mental and emotional files. Soon you will be called upon to participate in another struggle. It may not be any easier, but now you have a greater awareness of how to get through it. You will be wiser than before, but not as wise as you will become.

4. Life is a gift beyond measure

Sometimes life will be raw. But if you allow it, your life can become a creative expression of who we are. The choice to be awake and present for the experience can crystallize in greater clarity on your purpose for being on this Earth at this time. It is up to you to decide. This opportunity to choose is given to you every time you face challenge and struggle. When you are in the metamorphosis from a cocoon to a butterfly remember that the reward of your great effort is wings to take flight.

Cover of Book

At midlife, my two college-bound children left home at the same time.  Restless and living in an empty nest, I questioned: Am I living my life’s purpose?  I heard prophetic words that altered the course of my life:  If you want something to change, make a new choice.  This advice set my heart on fire.  How far would I be willing to go outside my comfort zone to discover who I really am?  As I shouted “yes” to my newfound desire, I wondered after the course of a year where I might end up.  I surrendered the need to know, figuring that this was all part of the journey which basically began before I even left Sacramento.  I sold my home and possessions.  The remaining belongings were packed into a Lexus coupe.  Then I launched on a pilgrimage across California where I lived in one city per month for a year.

I started my journey in the mountains and ended at the ocean.  After an entire year of being on the road, I made some insightful discoveries, now lessons, which I’ll share with you below.  I’ll be the first to admit, changing the course of your life takes some true grit, not for the faint of heart.  If you’re ready to trust that a larger story of your life is unfolding, then I have three words of advice for you—beast mode, engaged!

  1. If you want something to change, make a new choice

If you want to experience another way of living your life, make a new choice and follow that path on your journey.   The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a new result.  Make a new choice.

  1. Passion requires risk

When was the last time you had butterflies in your stomach and felt your heart pound wildly?  Resting safe and secure in your comfortable life will not inspire passion.  Put your head in the lion’s mouth and feel what it means to be alive. Make a new choice and change the trajectory of your life.

  1. Say yes to every opportunity

Your life contracts or expands.  When you say no, it contracts.  When you say yes, it expands.  “Yes” sends the message that you’re in expansion mode.  Yes is a muscle you strengthen every time you use it.  Your reward is confidence.

  1. Release attachment to outcome

The direct cause of suffering is desire.  What you want for your own life may not be what the world wishes or needs.  There may be something much bigger and bolder waiting for you.  Surrender your will.  Trust that a larger story of your life is unfolding.

  1. Every step of the journey is the journey

Your journey has no start or end.  Your existence is infinite.  Life mirrors the universe, it continues to expand and evolve.  You create meaning of your life with each choice you make.  Wake up to yourself.  There is only one time and it is now.

dove release

The direct cause of suffering is desire.  What you want for your own life may not be what the world wishes or needs.  There may be something much bigger and bolder waiting for you.  Surrender your will.  Trust that a larger story of your life is unfolding.

Practice these three tips:

1. Recognize the difference between capitulation and surrender

Capitulation feels like you’re resisting “what is” without any horsepower behind it.  A great business example is when your boss makes a bad decision and you have little choice but to follow along even though you don’t agree with the direction.  Surrender removes the resistance as you simply take a step back and watch what unfolds from a neutral position.  You don’t judge it as good or bad, it simply “is.”

2. Accept your life as it is, not how you think it should be

How many times have you said to yourself, “I should be making more money,” or “I should be driving a brand-new Tesla by now just like my college roommate.”  Instead, why not experience your life as it is?  Living becomes way more interesting when you take a step back and observe how your life actually operates.  With some practice, you’ll amuse yourself instead of being the jury and the judge of your existence.

3. Trust that your life is unfolding for your highest good

The bottom line is this: you are here on Earth to experience life in all its manifestations, good, bad, indifferent, that’s the beauty of the human condition. Be awake and aware for all the choices you make, then surrender your will and watch what happens.  When you release attachment to outcome, liberation becomes your trusted companion and you are free to create the life you actually want to live in.

WisdomI’m now part of the Wisdom 2.0 Street Team.  What does that mean?  I’ll distribute postcards advertising the San Francisco Wisdom 2.0 Conference on Feb. 27 – March 1, 2015 to over 50 South Bay locations including coffee shops, yoga studios, and health food markets.  I’ll get to visit the campuses of Stanford, Google, and Facebook.  The result of this volunteer effort will be a free three-day pass to the conference.  In the words of rock band the Who, “I call that a bargain, the best I ever had.”

The concept of wisdom and technology bewitches me heart and mind.  I get freaked out by the singularity concept, the moment when humans and machines merge and nonbiological intelligence, err…robots take over the world.  I want to engage in conversation that sculpts humanity’s role to live with greater wisdom, purpose, and meaning while using technology in ways that create a more open and healthy culture.  Score one for humans, stupid robots! Plus, I have a cool idea for the postcard distribution project.

My goal is to discover the answer to this question: What role does wisdom play in technology?  The kaleidoscope responses to this query will be myriad, there is no one answer, but rather, many facets to view the question.  I simply want to create awareness that wisdom and technology are intimately connected.  How will I do that?

One things for sure, it will be a pen-and-paper, low-tech project, duh!   On a 11 x 17 legal-sized sheet of paper will be a handwritten question:  “What role does wisdom play in technology?”  At each postcard distribution site I’ll ask a real person to write their response using a black sharpie.  Then I’ll snap their picture and post it on social media, contributing to the larger conversation that’s taking place right now, sculpting our future.  This is my own way of integrating community at the grass-roots level.  Wish me luck!

Logo ~ Wisdom CircleFinally. The elixir. Geez. I’m starting a wisdom circle. So excited. I thank my cousin Angela Andrews for asking me, “Don’t you have a masters degree in spirituality?” (humblebrag) “Why don’t you use it?” Well, me scared. I’m only three-years-old. Whatever. Thank you Kevin Aschenbrenner for helping me hatch my plan. And then to my brand new friend Jane Sanguinetti for renting me her gorgeous Moss Beach yoga studio for the six-week pilot program. The wisdom circle is almost filled for the first night. Yippee!!   I’m just feelin’ so gosh-darn grateful for having the courage to step into my own power.  But here’s the best part of the wisdom circle, I’m not the leader, simply the facilitator. The purpose is to inspire and be inspired. One by one we’ll contribute to the group’s collective wisdom and discover a deeper, more authentic way of communicating. As we learn from one another, we’ll recognize the power of a larger community to discuss big ideas in a safe space set up for listening and speaking. This wisdom circle feels like it’s so California. And I have to laugh and say, well, I wrote the book on California. Thanks everyone, for all your love and support along the way. Me happy.

Want a huge dose of testosterone and adrenalin?  Listen to Gary Vaynerchuk’s passion-filled Building Personal Brand Within the Social Media Landscape presentation.  Note: lots of adult language, some of it vulgar and offensive, and that’s what makes it so gut-level good.  This guy’s on fire!  Just don’t ask him what wine goes with fish, he might just slug you in the face.  A special thanks to Joe Hines at A-Cubed Marketing for sharing this life-affirming speech.  

Am I A Mindful Communicator?

September 24, 2014

megaphoneGosh I love it when a personal and business friend’s name pops up on a social media site with a great blog post.  Surprise! Kevin Aschenbrenner, a law firm communications consultant, and grad school alumni of mine from Holy Names University in Oakland, has written a thoughtful and entertaining blog post: Am I A Mindful Communicator?

Here are the bullet points from his post:

  • Really listening to reporters, clients, and colleagues and keeping in mind who they are and where they are coming from. Maybe they just got dumped on by someone else, missed a deadline or spilled coffee all over their keyboard.
  • Letting go of my impulse to formulate a response in my head to what someone else is saying while they are saying it. That extra pause lets me respond in a more mindful, charitable way.
  • Keeping this saying from my days at ProfNet and PRNewswire front of mind: We’re all on the same team.
  • Be one of the good guys when it comes to pitching reporters: Respect deadlines and busy times, don’t be aggressive and don’t pitch garbage.
  • Realize that, as a handbook I got years ago when traveling on a Contiki tour said, “There are few things in life that are actually fatal.” And there is likely nothing I do in legal PR that could result in a fatality. So, chill out, dude.

Congrats dear Kevin, for a job well done.  Bravo.

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