My new book, Nothing Changes Until You Do, just came out this week! I’m really excited about it. In this video blog post I talk about a few of the core themes of the book and tell a few stories about how we can have more compassion for ourselves… and remember our true value!
My friend Rich came over to my office last week and we had a wonderful and authentic conversation about what’s going on in each of our lives right now. I’m so grateful to have people in my life like Rich whom I can talk to and get real.
Authenticity creates freedom and having people around us we can truly be ourselves with is so important.
Rich and I talked vulnerably about our relationships, our challenges, the things we’re most excited about, and some stuff we’d both like to change about ourselves and our lives.
As we were talking, Rich shared a great email with me he’d recently received about change:
What I CAN Change
- You can’t change your entire life, you can only change your next action
- You can’t change a relationship with a loved one, you can only change your next interaction
- You can’t change your entire job, you can only change your next task
- You can’t change your body composition, you can only change your next meal
- You can’t change your fitness level, you can only start moving
- You can’t de-clutter your entire life, you can only choose to get rid of one thing right now
- You can’t eliminate your entire debt, you can only make one payment, or buy one less unnecessary item
- You can’t change the past, or control the future, you can only change what you are doing now
- You can’t change everything, you can only change one, small thing…and that’s all it takes
Wow – what a great reminder of how life and change truly work.
As I reflected on the power, wisdom, and simplicity of this message, I started to realize how often I get impatient and frustrated with myself, especially in certain areas of my life, when I want to change to happen. This email reminded me how important it is to take things step by step, moment by moment.
While I do believe in thinking big, in breakthrough results, and in miraculous change – paradoxically, the way life tends to unfold and real change happens is one-step-at-a-time. And, when we remember this, we allow ourselves to be in the present moment, reclaim our true power, and eliminate a great deal of unnecessary worry, pain, and suffering.
As Lao-tzu taught us, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.” Although we all know this and have heard this saying many times, the challenge for many of us is to remember it and live it on a daily basis.
Here are a few things you can do to practice living one-step-at-a-time:
1) Make a list of some of the things you want to change, alter, or improve in your life right now. First of all, it’s important to remember that none of these changes will, in and of themselves, make you happy (only you can do that for yourself). That being said, positive change can be a wonderfully exciting and empowering thing for us to engage in and experience. Identifying what you want to change specifically is an essential first step.
2) With each of these important things you want to change, think of some simple, small steps you can take (today or this week) that will move you in the direction you truly want. If you get stuck with any of them, ask for help. And, if you start to get overwhelmed, take a break and remember to keep things simple. These are what my friend Susan calls “micro-movements,” don’t let your ego take over and judge them as too small.
3) Celebrate each step of the way. As you notice yourself making different choices, having new thoughts, and taking small, positive steps towards the changes you want; celebrate. And, if you find yourself forgetting, falling back into old patterns, or unable to take some of these simple actions, celebrate yourself for your awareness and honor your desire to change. Either way, celebrating and appreciating yourself is essential to the process.
By remembering what we can actually change and how change truly works, we’re able to create true miracles in our lives – one-step-at-a-time!
What are you working on changing in your life right now? How can to shift your focus to “one-step-at-a-time?” How do you think this will serve and support you? Share your thoughts, ideas, insights, and more on my blog below.
A few weeks ago my wife Michelle and I found out, surprisingly, that we were expecting our third child. Since this wasn’t something we’d planned, we were shocked, excited and a bit freaked out, all at the same time. We began telling lots of people about this big news and starting to imagine our life with another baby – which was both thrilling and overwhelming for us to contemplate.
Within just a few days of learning about the pregnancy, however, we had a miscarriage – something we’d never been through and weren’t quite prepared for. The range of emotions we experienced during that week, and in the weeks that followed, has been quite intense.
As jarring, painful, and somewhat surreal as it has been, Michelle and I both feel a deep sense of peace and gratitude – choosing to believe that this happened for a reason and doing our best to use this experience to deepen our own awareness and healing in life. While it has been difficult, it has also been a very rich time of growth and connection for us on many levels.
One of the most complicated aspects of this experience has been sharing it with others – which we have been somewhat forced to do given that we told a lot of people about the pregnancy. Many people don’t talk about their pregnancies until the second trimester, since the majority of miscarriages take place in those first three months. I understand, even more so now, why people keep this private – as talking about a miscarriage can be quite emotional and uncomfortable for everyone involved.
However, even though this has been an intense process for us and many of the people we’ve talked to about it (especially those who have gone through this personally), Michelle and I have been so grateful for the amazing love and support we’ve received. We’ve also been blown away by how many other people have experienced a miscarriage – some we knew about, but many we didn’t.
Even in the midst of this personal and emotional experience, I’ve also been fascinated by human phenomenon of authenticity at play. There is such power, freedom, and liberation available for us when we get real. And while I do believe that it’s important for each of us to make conscious choices about what we share and with whom, far too often I think we choose not to share certain thoughts, feelings, or experiences because we deem them to be “inappropriate” or “too much” for people to handle.
Sadly, in this process of withholding our true experiences and feelings, we miss out on opportunities to connect with people in an authentic way, get support, share love, wisdom, and empathy, and connect in a real way with everyone around us.
Carl Jung said, “We’re only as sick as our secrets.” And, Mother Teresa said, “Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable.” Then she said, “Be honest and transparent anyway.”
How We Can Get Real in a Vulnerable Way
One of the best ways to access a deeper sense of authenticity, vulnerability, and transparency is through a powerful exercise called “If you really knew me.” This exercise, which has had a profound impact on my own life and is something I’ve facilitated in various forms with many of the groups and individuals I’ve spoken to or coached over the years, gives people an opportunity to get real and vulnerable.
The exercise was taught to me by my friends and mentors, Rich and Yvonne Dutra-St. John, founders of an incredible organization called Challenge Day, which delivers life-altering, experiential, personal development workshops for teens, schools, and people of all ages. Challenge Day’s high school program is featured in the new MTV reality series which is actually called If You Really Knew Me.
How the exercise works is that each person in the group – usually a smallish group of anywhere from four to eight people (although it can be done one on one or with a larger group) – gets a minute or two of undivided attention from everyone else in the group and repeats this sentence, “If you really knew me, you’d know…” and then completes the sentence by sharing things that are real, vulnerable, and below the surface about themselves (thoughts, feelings, dreams, insecurities, opinions, experiences, passions, challenges, etc.).
There’s no pressure or expectation on each person to share anything they don’t want to share – just a challenge to step outside of their comfort zone, choose to trust the people in the group, and be more open, real, and vulnerable than they may normally be with others.
Whenever I either participate in or facilitate this exercise (as I just did earlier this week during a program I delivered), I’m always amazed by its power. People laugh, cry, get real, let go of things they’ve been holding onto, and truly connect with each other – heart to heart and in an authentic way.
What I always get from this exercise myself and hear people say in different ways is that even though we’re all unique, we’re way more alike than we are different. When we have the courage to get real with each other and speak our truth, it’s one of the most meaningful, rewarding, and connecting experiences we can have with other human beings.
Michelle and I have experienced the power and importance of getting real in these past few weeks. Even though we weren’t prepared for this, didn’t see it coming, and weren’t planning to share it with lots of people – it has been life-altering in so many ways and has taken a difficult, painful, and somewhat unexplainable situation, and turned it into something that is allowing us to grow, deepen, and experience more joy and gratitude in our lives.
When we get real (first with ourselves and then with others), even if it’s scary, uncomfortable, awkward, or intense, it has the potential to liberate us, impact those around us, and bring us all together in a beautiful and genuine way. We don’t have to go through whatever we’re going through in life alone – there is more love, support, and care around each of us than we usually realize and when we’re willing to be real about our experience, let people know what’s truly going on for us, and ask for help when we need it – it’s remarkable what happens!
What are you holding onto that you’re ready to reveal and release? If people really knew you, what would they know about you? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more on my blog below.
How do you feel about saying “no?” I notice that saying “no” to certain people and in some situations can be challenging for me. Sometimes I find myself saying “yes” when “no” would really be more authentic. More covertly, I also find myself at times giving “half-truths” (which is quite an oxymoron if you think about it) to people when they present me with opportunities, engage with me about connecting, etc. You know what I mean, you run into someone and say, “We should really get together sometime,” but you really have very little interest in or commitment to making that happen. Does this ever happen to you?
What is it about saying “no” that many of us have a hard time with? For me, it comes down to a few specific things. First of all, I get scared that people will get upset or disappointed if I say “no.” Second, I’m not a huge fan of hearing “no” from others myself, so being the one saying it can be difficult for me. And lastly, I consider myself to be “yes” type of person. I pride myself on being open, willing, and ready to say “yes” at all times. In other words, “no” often seems like a failure, an admission of weakness, or just an overall negative thing to say.
However, saying “no” is one of the most important aspects of living a life filled with balance, integrity, and authenticity. Our ability and capacity to say “no” with confidence is one of the most important aspects of creating peace and power in our lives. This is about creating healthy boundaries, honoring ourselves, and being real – it’s not about being closed, cynical, or unwilling.
The majority of people I know, especially these days, live their lives with a feeling of “overwhelm” that either runs them or at least gets in their way from time to time. If you think of the aspects of your life where you feel most overwhelmed, stressed out, or ineffective – there is probably a theme going on – you haven’t said “no” when you needed to. If you also think about any relationships in your life where these is stress, struggle, or conflict – you saying “no” with honesty and kindness is also probably missing.
When we don’t say “no” in an authentic way we end up feeling burdened, resentful, and even victimized (although, ironically, we forget that we are the ones who said “yes” in the first place).
Saying “no” does have real consequences. Sometimes we will upset, disappoint, or annoy people. We also may have a significant amount of fear about saying “no” to certain people (our spouse, boss, co-worker, friend, child, etc.) or in certain situations (at work, with clients, with our in-laws, and more).
However, there are huge benefits to us enhancing our capacity and comfort with “no.” Tapping into the power of “no” creates freedom, liberation, and a real sense of trust with the people in our lives. When we’re someone that says “yes” when we mean it and “no” when we mean it – others know they can count on us to be real, tell the truth, and come through.
And, when we “no” with confidence, honesty, and compassion, we do one of the best things we can possibly do to honor and appreciate ourselves.
How do you feel about saying “no?” What can you do to enhance your ability and capacity to say “no” with confidence and ease? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more on my blog below.
Sometimes we think that appreciation is all about being “nice.” That’s not the case. Appreciation, in my opinion, is about recognizing the value of someone or something and about being able to empower ourselves and others. It is, however, also about coming from a place of gratitude, respect, and truth in our relationships with the people around us. Giving people honest feedback can be one of the best ways to appreciate them and let them know we that we care about them. This, however, isn’t always easy.
First of all, to give someone honest feedback you must have a foundation of trust and appreciation in your relationship with them. It’s also important to ask their permission and make sure it’s okay with them before you launch into your feedback.
Often we wait until it’s too late or we don’t say something because we’re scared about how they might react. It’s easy to say nothing or to just “blow smoke.” However, it takes real courage to speak your truth to another person.
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’re coming from a place that can empower and ultimately support that person. If your intention is to be superior, to show them how wrong they are and how right you are, or some version of either of these two things – you’re coming from your ego and your “truth” will most likely push them away.
I’ve recently been confronted with a number of situations like this in my own life. I’ve handled some of them very poorly – either by not speaking up or doing so in a self-righteous or ineffective way. There have been a handful of situations, however, where I’ve had the courage to speak up and say what was on my mind and in doing so something wonderful happened. Regardless of how we go about this, in the end it’s almost always better for us to speak up than not. We learn more about ourselves, 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, however, I’m usually able to hear their feedback and learn from it. Most importantly, I always appreciate their willingness and courage to say something honest and potentially vulnerable to me.
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 would be possible in your relationship with them if you spoke up?
I challenge to you to pick a few important people in your life that you’ve been afraid to speak your truth to and just do it. Remember that speaking your truth (with appreciation, honesty, and kindness) is a great gift for the people in your life and is one of the best ways you can acknowledge them and strengthen your relationship.