On July 11th 1998 I had a life-altering conversation with my Uncle Steve. I was in an incredibly vulnerable, open, and confused place in my life. With my baseball career over at the age of 24, I was terrified about the future and not sure what to do next. In my heart, I knew I had something to say, something to write, and something to teach. That day I called Steve in Texas, who had always been an incredible beam of light in my life – a male force of love, belief in me, and inspiration. I loved, trusted, and admired him. In the course of the conversation with Steve that day, I shared lots of my insecure feelings and fears about the future. I also shared this “far-fetched” dream of wanting to be an author and a teacher, even though at the time I had no real idea about that that meant or how I would do that. As we got further into the conversation, Steve pointed out that it didn’t sound like I really wanted to write, per se, it sounded more like I wanted to speak my truth and share my ideas, stories, and insights in a way that might help others. He said, “you don’t want to be a writer, you want to be a speaker.” I had never thought about that until he said it…and it resonated with me to my core.
Then Steve said the words that changed my life…he said, “Michael, it is time for you to STEP OUT. What can you do today to ‘step out’ into your life and into your truth?”
I was both inspired and terrified by his comment and question. But, what he said touched a deep place within my heart and soul. I felt alive, I felt seen, I felt supported, and I felt almost possessed by this notion of me truly “stepping out.”
Steve and I have grown even closer over the past nine years. He continues to love, support, and celebrate me. I appreciate him and am so grateful for his loving presence in my life. And, while my path to this moment has been somewhat hap-hazard, that conversation and the concept of me “stepping out” has been the motivation and inspiration for all of my work as a speaker, coach, and now author…and for my life these past nine years. It is not to say that I “step out” all the time. I don’t and sometimes it is painful for me to see and feel myself retreat, withhold, and not do or say what is true in my heart. But, this awareness and Steve’s influence have allowed me to understand this important phenomenon in my life and in life in general.
Enough about me…how does this relate to you and your life? Are you willing to step out, speak your truth, go for what you want, and be yourself? As Oscar Wilde so brilliantly said, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”
What would “stepping out” look like for you? What can you do today as a way to “step out?” When we do this, whatever it looks like for each of us, we are truly alive, in touch with our passion and purpose, and living life on our edge. In my opinion, that is what it is all about.
Now…go STEP OUT in your life today and everyday. Otherwise, what’s the point?!?
With Love, Passion, and Truth,
Samantha – looking for what she wants next
As todlers and young children, most of us are very comfortable (for better or worse) asking for what we want. Admittedly, some of the things we ask for and want we cannot have for a myriad of reasons. However, as we get older and become more “reasonable,” we make decisions about what we can and can’t ask for in life – from our parents, our friends, our co-workers, and people in general. By the time most of us are adults, many of us have a very hard time asking for what we want at all.
The problem is that the answer is always “NO” if we don’t ask. In other words, it’s very difficult to get what we want in life if we are too scared or uncomfortable to ask for it. Asking for what we want is not about being demanding, pushy, or selfish. It’s about making grown-up requests and taking responsibility for our lives and our desires.
Imagine if you could go through your life on a daily basis and not edit yourself as it relates to your requests. What if you felt comfortable to ask for exactly what you wanted all the time, and at the same time were not attached to the outcome. If each of us felt more comfortable and free with our requests and we actually made genuine requests of people (meaning that the other person could say “yes,” “no,” or make a “counter offer” without fear of repercussions) the world would be a very different place for us and those around us.
I know it can be scary and we can sometimes feel vulnerable putting ourselves out there, asking for what we want, and wondering if we are going to get turned down, hurt, or rejected. However, when we don’t ask for what we want, we set ourselves up for failure and disappointment. My challenge to you today is to make some bold requests – even if you feel uncomfortable. If you are willing to step through your fear, you may actually get exactly what you want – just like Samantha with the blue balloon.
Early last week I had a great conversation with my friend Sean. He was sensing some stress, fear, and pressure within me and asked me about it. At first, I was not all that open to the conversation – feeling a little judged and defensive (which for me is usually a sign someone has touched on something I really should listen to).
The essence of Sean’s feedback was that I did not seem to be enjoying all of the wonderful things happening in my life and my business right now. He felt that I was “pushing” to get everything done, instead of trusting that it would all work out and celebrating all that was going on. Ironically, his feedback is at the heart of my work. As they say, we often teach best what we most need to learn.
The morning after Sean and I had that conversation, I was listening to the audio version of Wayne Dyer’s book, Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling. In this program, Wayne says that our goal in life is to be “inspired” as often as possible. His definition for inspiration is to be “IN SPIRIT,” (connected to God/Spirit). As I listened to the program and thought about my conversation with Sean and his accurate assessment of how I had been feeling and acting recently, it hit me…I had been operating as if I were all alone.
Even though I have a beautiful, loving wife, an amazing little girl, family and friends who love me, clients whom I enjoy working with, and a relationship with God that is very important to me, I often feel as though it is all up to me to get the important things done in my life, especially my work. While there is some truth to this, especially due to the fact that I have set up my business as a “one-man-show,” I was forgetting about God/The Universe. Sean and Wayne both reminded me that the more I tap into my connection with God and the Universe, the more fun I will have, the easier it will be to do the things I am doing, and the less pressure and stress I will feel.
From Wednesday morning on, I have felt totally different. There is a lightness, a spirit, and a calm within me that I have not felt in a few months. Something subtle shifted, but it has been profound. As I have seen with this type of shift (in me and others) in the past, of course some wonderful things have been showing up around me – people, opportunities, and more.
I imagine you can relate to feeling stressed, pressured, or worried. I also imagine you have times in your life where you feel all alone or disconnected from God/Spirit. God is not an abstraction, a theory, or some old man in the sky who decides (like Santa Clause) if we have been good or bad. God is a universal force and energy that flows through us, around us, and everywhere. We are all pieces of God and we can tap into the energy and spirit of God at a moments notice.
When we think, as I sometimes do, that what happens is all up to us and that we have to do it all ourselves, we are forgetting who we really are – spiritual beings having a human experience (to use an overused expression).
What can you do today to remind yourself that you are not alone? What can you do to be “IN SPIRIT?” We all have things we do, practices, or people who help get us more connected to our hearts, to our passions, and to our spirits. I encourage you to surround yourself with people, things, and situations that will allow you to be in spirit as much as possible – today and everyday. Take some quiet time, meditate, pray, go for a walk, connect with your family, or do anything else that brings spirit into your life and love into your heart. When we do this, we remember that we are not alone and that our lives are guided and supported in a beautiful and spiritual way.
With Love and Peace,
Well, I did not post to my blog for a few weeks and here I am making my second post in two days?!? Ah, to be human…
I came across a quote when I was writing my book last summer that I love. “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” This was said my the famous Oscar Wilde. What a great statement. As simple as this is, many of us (myself included) struggle to do just this – BE OURSELVES.
Our obsessions with being liked, looking good, getting ahead, fitting in, and more make it difficult for us to truly be ourselves. We worry that if we really said, felt, and acted in a way that was truly authentic, we might lost our jobs, our friends, and our way of life. Or, even if our fears are not this extreme, we are at least concerned that being authentic would cause problems and upset people in our daily lives. Therefore, it is way easier to fall in line, do and say what we are “supposed” to, and work hard to “make it” in life as best we can.
However, selling out on who we truly are, how we honestly feel, and what we authentically want only leads to frustration, anger, and resentment. The truth is, we are not really taught to be ourselves, express ourselves, or be authentic. We don’t usually learn authenticity from our parents, teachers, leaders, or peers.
It is a courageous act to step out and be who we really are. And, it is an on-going process in life. Being true to ourselves does not necessarily mean arguing, protesting, or getting in people’s faces (although it could), it simply means we do, say, feel, think, and express ourselves in ways that are real, vulnerable, and true to our hearts – regardless of the reaction of others or what we think other people want from us. It is not easy, but all of us have experienced it, even in a small way, throughout our lives. And, having experienced this, we all know the peace and freedom that comes from this level of truth and authenticity.
Most people I talk to are longing for a world of deeper truth, authenticity, and freedom. It is easy to get people to agree that most politicians, people in the media, and even many people around them are “full of it” to some degree or other. However, it is harder for most of us to admit that we, too, are mostly “full of it” in how we live our lives and operate on a daily basis. I don’t say this as a negative judgement of myself or the rest of us on the planet, just as an observation. When each of us is willing to truly be ourselves, tell the truth, and live with a deeper level of authenticity, we will not only create a greater sense of personal freedom in our lives, we will be doing our part to create a new culture in which we all can live with more freedom, peace, and fun. Wouldn’t that be great?
With Love and Truth,
Happy May! It has been a few weeks since I last posted to my blog. I have been on the road and life has been filled with lots of wonderful things…hence the delay in posting.
One of my recent trips was to Los Angeles for the Milken Institute Global Conference. The Milken Institute is an international, economic think tank that addresses global issues including poverty, climate change, education, medicine, politics, and more. The work of the Milken Institute is focused on researching how the capital markets can influence positive change in the world and then educating businesses and those with wealth about how to use their money in the most effective way possible.
I was invited to the conference as a board member of the Peace Alliance. I, and a few of my fellow board members, were asked to attend this event to meet as many people as possible and talk to folks about the “profitability” of peace in our nation and our world. We hope that at next year’s event there will be a session devouted to this topic and to the idea of creating a U.S. Department of Peace, which is what our organization is working on primarily these days.
The conference was fascinating on so many levels. First of all, I have never been to an event attended by people with more wealth and influence. A short list of some of the presenters and panelists that I saw speak: John Kerry, Ted Turner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis, Michael J. Fox, Bill Frist, Arianna Huffington, Steve Forbes, Rupert Murdoch, Andrea Agassi, Bradley Whitford, Harold Ford Jr., and many others. I was amazed and incredibly impressed with the knowledge, awareness, success, and thoughtfulness of most of the speakers.
A number of sessions dealt directly with politics, climate change, and philanthropy. I was continually blown away by the level of caring and compassion and how much time, money, and energy is being put into such important issues. It was incredibly inspiring.
Many of the panels were purposely set up with people from opposing view points and political persuasions. There were some heated debates. But, mostly I found the dialogue and discourse to be respectful and fascinating. While there were a number of people I personally disagreed with, I found myself learning from just about everyone I heard speak and most of the people I met attending the conference, although we had many differences. And, the deeper I listened, the more I heard the similarities between even the most diverse view points. Ken Mehlman, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee and the campaign director for George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004 (someone who prior to the conference I could not stand and did not think I agreed with about anything) said something that stuck with me. He said, “Most of us have similar goals, fears, and aspirations for ourselves, our families, and our nation. We just have different views and ideas about how to best get there.” I found this comment and much of what Ken had to say to be very insightful, aware, and thoughtful. Even though I do disagree with him politically, I came away with a great deal of respect, compassion, and understanding for him – both politically and personally.
My experience with Ken Mehlman was powerful for me and it reminded me that in our world of 24 hour news, sound bites and debates, and constant bombardment from the media and other places about how “bad” things are, how much we all hate each other, and how divided our nation and our world are right now…maybe this is just negative hype, and the deeper truth is that while we do have our differences and some of them are significant, at a fundamental level we are all much more alike than we are different.
With this in mind, see if you can start to appreciate some of the differences you have with others around you, have more compassion for those you disagree with, and look for where you have commonalities more than conflicts with other people – in your personal life, at work, on TV, in politics, and in general. I think if we all looked for more of our similarities and realized how much we have in common as human beings, we could alter our world in a very positive way.
With Love and Peace,