Archive for July 2007

Lean In

My friend John has an expression for facing fear in a pro-active and powerful way…”Lean in.” I love this expression and metaphor. When he says this or I think about it, I actually see a mental image of myself physically leaning in, as if I’m in a wind tunnel leaning forward with all of my might so I won’t get blown over.

So often we run away, hide, or avoid our fears because they are scary, uncomfortable, embarrassing, and more. However, very little that means much to us in life shows up without any fear or resistance attached to it. What if we spent more time leaning into our fears and less energy running away from them? I think this would dramatically alter our lives.

One of the best things we can get good at in life is telling the truth about our fears and doubts. Everyone gets scared – it is part of being human. However, the issue with fear is often not the fear itself, but the resistance or denial of the fear that becomes a problem.

See if you can spend some time and energy today and this week leaning into your fears more. This means you admit them, own them, and take them head on. We all know how to transform our fear because we all have done it many times throughout our lives. Lean on others, talk to God, connect with that place within you that knows you can handle anything, and believe in yourself.

The more we lean in, the more we learn. When we are not afraid of our fears, we take back our power in a beautiful and courageous way. Will we still get scared? Of course we will. The point is not to get rid of our fear (which, by the way, will never happen until we die), the point is to create a relationship to our fear so that it does not stop us from living the life of our dreams.

Let’s all LEAN IN and trust that things will always work out…they always do!

Love,

Mike

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Become Harder to Offend

I was recently thinking about how easily many of us in our culture get offended. We get offended by what people say, things on TV, opposing political opinions, noise, music, traffic, weather, our family, different view points, and so much more. Most of us are convinced that we are right and that people who don’t see it our way are wrong, or at least “misguided.”

While I often aspire to be as open minded, accepting, and easy-going as possible, the truth is that I can get as easily offended as anyone I know. Many of my opinions about life, others, and “the way things should be” are incredibly self-righteous. And, I know I am not alone in this. Can you relate?

However, what if we became really hard to offend. This is not to say that we abandon our values or opinions, it is more about choosing to allow other people and things be as they are. We take so many things personally that have nothing to do with us. The more we react to something, the less freedom and peace we have. When I get really “triggered” by someone or something, if I make it all about the other person or the thing I am focusing on, I usually miss the real gift, the lesson, and the point (i.e. the shadow or mirror that this negative thing is showing me about myself and life).

If you walked around for a day or a week and made a commitment not to get offended, do you think it would impact the quality of your life? I bet it would. What if we could just let things be, instead of always having to comment on everything, form an opinion about everyone we meet and all the things we see, and speak up all the time about what we think should be done.

A great reminder of this is the book THE FOUR AGREEMENTS, by don Miguel Ruiz. I love this book and his teaching. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it. Check out http://www.miguelruiz.com/. One of the four agreements is, “Don’t take anything personally.” What an important message for all of us to hear.

Have a great day and week…and, let’s see if we can become harder to offend!

Blessings,

Mike

P.S. My 17 month old daughter Samantha (pictured below) is a great teacher for me…she hardly ever gets offended by anyone or anything.

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Love Them Enough to Tell Them the Truth

Sometimes people think that appreciation is about being “nice.” That is not the case. Appreciation, in my opinion, is about coming from a place of love and truth. In fact, giving people brutally honest feedback is one of the best ways we can appreciate them and let them know we love and care about them. This, however, is not always easy.

First of all, to give someone honest feedback you must have a foundation of respect, trust, and appreciation in your relationship with them. It is also important to ask their permission and make sure it is okay before you launch into your feedback.

With these things in place, our willingness to tell the truth to people is essential. Too often we wait until it is too late or we don’t say something because we are scared about how they might react. It is easy to say nothing or to “blow smoke.” However, it takes real courage to speak your truth to another. The key is your intention. If your intention is to make a difference for that person, “clear” something that might be in your way with them, or help them see something they may not be able to see – you are coming from a place that can empower and ultimately support that person. If your intention is to be superior, to show how wrong they are and how right you are, or some version of either of these two things – you are coming from your ego and your “truth” will most likely push you and this other person further apart.

I have recently been confronted with a number of situations like this in my life. In all honesty, I have handled some of them very poorly – either by not speaking up or doing so in a self-righteous and ineffective way. And, there have been a number of situations in which by me having the courage to speak up and say what was on my mind – something wonderful happened. Regardless of how I go about this, in the end it is almost always better for me to speak up than not. I learn more about myself, get closer to the other person, and grow in the process.

When someone speaks a “hard truth” to me, I know that have a tendency to push back and defend myself initially. Once that happens, I usually am able to hear their feedback and learn from it. Most importantly, I always appreciate their willingness to say something and feel loved and appreciated by their courage to do it.

Look at your relationships – especially the most important ones. Where are you not telling the truth, not giving feedback, or worried to say something honest? What would it take for you to be willing to tell them the truth? What are you afraid of? What could be possible in your relationship with them if you spoke up? My challenge to you is to go out and speak those truths this week. Remember that speaking your truth (with love) is a great gift for the people in your life and is one of the best ways you can appreciate them.

With Love and Truth,

Mike Robbins

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Watch More Sunsets – in honor of Anna Luskin

Michelle, Samantha, and I attended the memorial service of Anna Luskin today, the twenty year old daughter of my friend Fred Luskin. Fred is an author I respect and admire, and he has become a good friend and a mentor of mine over the past few years. His daughter Anna and their fifteen year old son Danny were driving back to the Bay Area from San Luis Obispo two and half weeks ago and they got into a car accident that killed Anna and injured Danny. Thankfully, Danny is fine and looked as normal as he could look, given the circumstances, at today’s service. Anna, unfortunately, did not make it.

As Michelle and I have been reeling from this tragic news these past few weeks, we have read and heard some incredible stories about Anna. While we only met her once, she was the kind of young woman who was hard to forget – passionate, bright, beautiful, filled with energy and wonder, and an open hearted spirit that felt so good to see and be around. She was a writer – studying journalism at Cal Poly where she just finished her sophomore year. While in high school she got an internship at the Palo Alto Weekly and her boss there gave her an assignment after he found out that she had never stopped to watch a sunset. He told her to watch one and then write about it. She did and wrote in a powerful and vulnerable piece about her insights and struggles with this assignment. Her authenticity – both in this piece and in her life (from what we have heard about her and what we witnessed in our brief encounter with her a few years ago) – was beautiful.

At the memorial service today many of the people who got up and spoke from their hearts about Anna’s impact on them and her legacy, reminded us to watch more sunsets, to connect with one another, and to focus on love – as Anna did. It was very sad and also incredibly inspiring to be there today, along with several hundred other people.

I have been in a state of shock and denile about Anna’s death since we found out – feeling such pain, sadness, and grief for my dear friend Fred, his wife Jan, and their son Danny. How do you recover from something like this?!? I have no idea. Why does something like this happen? There are lots of sick, sad, angry, unhappy people in the world who are either waiting to die, or even wanting to die – why would God take such a young, vibrant, precious soul from us? I am not sure that there are any satisfying answers to this question or others like it. Life continues to be a mystery to me.

I trust, even in the midst of my fear, anger, sadness, and confusion, that there is a reason, that the universe is not random, and that as a new friend of mine said to me last week, “We are all going to the same place, some of us just get on the early train…that is what Anna did.” However, the tragic passing of this bright, passionate, loving soul is once again a powerful reminder to me (and anyone and everyone touched by her loss) to savor each moment, to let go of stupid grudges, and to let others know how much we love them.

In the midst of the sadness of death, there is real magic. I saw so many expressions of love, truth, beauty, kindness, appreciation, gratitude, and more today – even with all of the grief. Amazingly, life does go on and it will for the Luskin family. I am not sure how, but I know that it will. With the sudden loss of my dear friend and mentor Richard in December and now this shocking loss of a vibrant twenty year old woman, I am feeling humbled by the uncertainty of life and realness of death…and, at the same time I am deeply grateful for these powerful souls and all that they have taught me and so many others – in both life and death.

Let’s honor Anna by focusing on what and who we love, right now, and also by watching as many sunsets as we can.

In honor of Anna Rose Luskin and with blessings to her family…

Love,

Mike Robbins

P.S. To read some wonderful stuff about and by Anna, check out http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=5343

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Life is Good

A few weeks ago I was in the LAX airport and I saw a “Life is Good” store. You may be familiar with this brand, they make clothes, hats, mugs, and all sorts of products with the words “life is good” on them. I’d seen people wearing this stuff before, but I’d never seen where it was sold. I was so excited. I spent about thirty minutes in the store and bought some hats, shirts, mugs, and magnets for myself and my family. It felt good to buy this stuff and I was excited to give it to Michelle and Samantha, and wear it myself.

Life IS good and it is nice to acknowledge that. I think that many of us have a hard time saying that because for us to consider life to be good, we think it has to be “perfect.” Last night I was up late sending out some emails and doing some work. Michelle came into my office after she got Samantha down to bed and pulled me outside into the backyard. It was a warm, beautiful night and she said she wanted to show me something. I was curious, confused, and in all honesty a little annoyed because I was in the middle of something that seemed “important” to me. When we got out into the backyard Michelle said, “See what a beautiful night it is – the weather is just right, the sky is clear, and it feels peaceful out here. Life is good! We have a great life and since we have been here in this house so many incredible things have happened in our lives.” I stood there looking into her eyes and thinking to myself, embarrassingly, “What does she want?” It took me a few moments to realize she didn’t want anything and there wasn’t anything she was going to “show” me…she had brought me outside to remind me of the great life we had.

Even though I do my best to live my life in the present moment and to appreciate all of the “good stuff” around me, it is still a challenge for me in the midst of my daily experience to do this. I was grateful for Michelle pulling me out of my office last night and taking me into the backyard to figuratively “smell the roses.”

We have to do this all the time. Life is only good if we say it is and if we look at the good stuff in life. Truthfully, life is good, it is bad, and it is everything in between. It is not black and white, it is filled with color and complexity. The more we take the time to focus on the good stuff in our lives, in others, and in ourselves, the more we are able to appreciate the magic and miracle life is all the time.

I appreciate companies like the “Life is Good” clothing company. They are taking a positive message and creating a successful business that uplifts and inspires people. Their products remind us to pay attention to the good things around us and within us. If you are interested in their products, check out their website at http://www.lifeisgood.com

Today, see if you can notice some of the many places where it is obvious that “life is good.” We always find what we look for…so, look for the good stuff.

With Love and Peace,

Mike

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