“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” -His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Did you know that November 13-20 is dubbed World Kindness Week? The cool thing is that every week….every day….every moment, can be infused with kindness. It costs nothing, since generosity is as free as the wind. I sense that it is hardwired into us, this instinct to be kind and yet, somehow, we allow it to slip away in the hustle and bustle of daily living. It gets reinforced at home, at school and in faith communities. The way we treat each 0ther from moment to moment, feeds the collective kindness kettle. I was talking with a friend recently about childhood visits to Atlantic City, NJ and the huge copper kettle being stirred by animated people in the front window of a fudge shop. When loving acts occur, it is like the ingredients for delight being poured and mixed round and round and when it is finished, it is enjoyed by those blessed to partake. Can you taste the sweetness?
What were you taught about kindness? My parents modeled it in the ways in which they spoke to each other and us. They avoided gossip when at all possible, as do I. I won’t say anything about someone that I wouldn’t say to them. I have walked away from gossiping people, with the comment “Who knows what you are saying about me when I’m not around?” My folks offered service in the community (my dad volunteered at the firehouse, my mom at the hospital) and at our synagogue. They brought food to homes where someone was ill or someone had died. They gave of their hearts, which seems to me to be a good defintion of kindness.
Sometimes it is easier to be kind to others than it is to ourselves and yet, just like the saying ‘charity begins at home,’ so too does kindness begin within. How can we give what we ain’t got? Think about all of the ways you speak to yourself. Are they words of encouragement or deprecation? Would you ever in a million years speak to someone else in the way you address yourself? Likely not. And yet, how many people who perpetrate abuse, whether verbal or physical, truly feel good about themselves or speak lovingly to the man or woman in the mirror. Not many.
In celebration of World Kindness Week, here are some suggestions:
Give yourself kindness kudos…what do you value about yourself?
Smile at everyone you pass each day.
Leave an extra large tip for service at a restaurant.
Put a love note in your child or partner’s lunch box, briefcase or purse.
Pay for a stranger’s meal.
Juice the toll taker, by giving him or her a thank you card just for being there.
Let someone else go in front of you in the supermarket check out line.
Run errands for a busy neighbor or drop by with home made goodies.
Offer to babysit for a harried parent. (well, for the children of a harried parent, although the mom or dad might need some babysitting too)
If you have skills that could be of benefit to someone, offer them. (sewing, construction, organization, massage are examples)
Read to a child.
Visit a nursing home Resident.
What are some of your kindness ideas?
http://youtu.be/__rCTOvDZto My Religion is Kindness by Karen Drucker
For those who have seen the now iconic film The Secret, you are likely to remember a powerfully passionate woman who spoke her truth about her self image and how it evolved over time. I have followed the career of Lisa Nichols since then and had the joy of interviewing her yesterday and look forward to meeting her face to face when she comes to New Jersey to speak with a group of conscious entrepreneurs who desire to take their own messages and get them out there in the world in ways that will make a difference to those they encounter in their work and support them well in the process.
You are considered one the world’s foremost motivational speakers, what I call a ‘mover and shaker’. Was there a particular life event that shook you to the point that led you to the work you are doing now?
There are multiple events that are ongoing. If there ever was an earthquake in my life, I have had plenty of aftershocks. For the most part, I discovered self development, unlike some of my colleagues who decided to be speakers and trainers because they wanted to serve others, I discovered self development to save my own life. I was at a point in my life that I knew I had great possibility but I was at an alltime low after being in an abusive relationship. I sought out self development to get my breath back, to build my legs up under me again, to go from a crawl to a walk, from a walk to a run. So, I discovered self development as a way to recover and give myself a thousand second chances.
How did you become known as The Breakthrough Specialist?
It’s really funny. Everything about my life is about how do I want to turn a breakdown into a breakthrough? How do I turn to my crawl into a run and my run into a soar? Because of the injury I came in with, meaning looking at the part of my life that wasn’t working, I decided to teach people how to do what I did, which was look at the areas that don’t work and don’t feel good and really build those up so that they feel better and move better and work. I was willing to not just take people from rah rah and kumbaya and take them from ‘this sucks and this feels like crap and this doesn’t work’ and look at that with them. Alot of motivational speakers will just talk about what’s possible and I’m willing to talk about what’s not working so that we don’t find ourselves repeating toxic patterns and old behaviors. Let’s take a look at what’s not working and let’s figure out how to make it work. One of my colleagues, John Assaraf who was in The Secret with me, was with me on our way to John Grey’s (author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus) house. John says: “You’re the breakthrough specialist. You really teach people how to have breakthroughs.” It wasn’t a ploy, scheme or mantra. This is what I stand for.
What were your childhood aspirations and did they come to fruition?
I made a list of 4 things I wanted to do. I wanted to help people and serve people. I wanted to travel the world. I wanted to wear a black suit. I wanted to carry a laptap. It’s all relative. They have come to fruition. Bigger than wanting to help people, because I was willing to set an intention, my life has far exceeded what I thought I would do. I feel worthy of this. I feel divinely assigned right now. In my world, I wanted to motivate Los Angeles and then I said I wanted to motivate California and then I said I wanted to motivate the United States. I never in a million years thought I would be an international inspirational and transformational coach. I didn’t have the capacity to imagine how beautiful my life would turn out. That speaks to dreaming and then releasing the dream to possibility. I had a dream that put me in a particular mental zipcode, but within that mental zipcode, I had no idea how I would elevate my life. I would keep saying yes with my knees knocking and my teeth chattering, understanding that the moment I got comfortable, that means the moment I could see the end of my goals, I’m not dreaming big enough. I want to dream so big that I can’t see the end of the story.
I know that some of your work serves teens. How can we empower them to make positive choices?
My company has worked with over 250,000 teens thus far since 2000 and we have prevented on record over 3053 teen suicides to date. We create a safe space, a truly emotionally safe space. We have three agreements in our room. There is no judgement. There are no repercussions and there is only unconditional love. We do something that most teens never experience and most adults never do and that is we risk it all with them, so whatever we are coaching them on in their particular lives, we share about when we were in breakdown in that area. They see us, not as adults, but as human beings walking beside them, just in an older body package. We create an environment where we reward their transparancy and the more we acknowledge that, the more transparent they are, the more they realize how healthy it is, how safe it is, to be transparent. We make telling the truth out loud popular in a room full of teenagers. There are teenagers who have a 4.5 GPA, a 4,2 GPA and an 0.1 GPA and on house arrest. We blend them together; Black, White,Latino, Asian. We show them that we all want to be loved, understood; we’ve all heard the word no, we’ve all heard the word yes, we’ve all been afraid. We elevate our likeness and we honor our differences. My work with teens is the most rewarding, remarkable work I will ever do.
If your adult self and adolescent self could dialog with each other, what would they say?
My adolescent self would say “Am I good enough? Do they really like me? Can you please help me to love myself? Can you please show me how to see myself the way my peers and my family see me? I don’t see that. How do I manage my sensuality and sexuality. I have a very mature body, but I’m not sexually mature.” My adult self would say “You’re going to fall down a few more times and it’s going to hurt, but here’s what I know…you have it in you that every time you fall down, you already have in you what it’s going to take to get back up. You’re going to make alot of mistakes, but the first thing you get to do is forgive yourself. You give yourself a thousand second chances. Here’s what I know. You are already whole and complete. There is nothing on the outside of you that’s going to make you whole and complete. You are enough. You’ve always been enough. In the coming years, you are going to recognize that you are enough. Live today like you are good enough, smart enough, wise enough, thin enough, pretty enough, Godly enough. I can not wait for you to get that lesson and walk with that knowing and no one can do you like you. No one has your style. That’s what’s going to help you transform lives. The last thing my adult self would tell my adolscent self is “Stop chasing those daggone boys, so that they can show you the beauty in you. You already have it in you.”
What are some of the most effective strategies for creating the life of your dreams and desires?
The most effective strategy is Begin within the end in mind. Write down the story you want to be told about your life as if you have already transitioned. Write down what you want people to say in your eulogy. Write down the contributions to the planet you have made. How did you make them laugh? How did you make them feel? What kind of person, neighbor, mother, sister…who were you? What does it take to make that come true? Break it down into palatable pieces. I live in quarters. If I write a ten year strategy out, I break it down in a bunch of quarters, every 90 days. Hold yourself accountable to 90 day goals and 90 day milestones. The goal is a big thing, the milestones are those small points so you know you are on the right path. Have an accountablity buddy or community. I didn’t say a networking community. You need to have someone who is fully aware of your 90 day goals and are willing to ask you the hard questions: 1-Did you hit your goal? 2- If you didn’t, why didn’t you?
How do you get past the monkey mind inner critic that yammers away at you?
I manage mine and turn and confront my inner critic. It doesn’t get alot of mileage. If I hear my inner critic whispering, I address the whisper. I ask “Why do you think I’m not qaualified and why do you think I can’t….” and then it dissipates into the nothingness that it is. I am always being conscious and bringing what is in the dark into the light. I’m going to out myself and say it to someone else. If I can’t get past this, I call in a rescue team that looks like my friends and colleagues. I also pull out my affirmations and hand write them so it pertains to me. I’m a single mom who traveled over 280 days this year, 9 different countries, my company’s going public. I write affirmations to fit where I am and use them like a mantra. I always do mirror work. I am always looking into my eyes. Yesterday I was leaving my son again and the chatter in my head was “You’re not a good mom; you’re leaving your son again.” I know that’s not the truth. My son and I are closer than most parents who are home 100% of the time. What I did was that I sat with my son and said “Right now, I am telling myself that I am not a good mom. I know that’s not the truth.,” and my son said “Ok, mom, what do you need to feel better right now?” “Nothing. I just need to say it out loud to disempower it, because in my head, it has alot of power. He says, “Yeah, you know you did a good job. You know you’re the ‘mom.com’. ” When my chatter is too loud, I can’t hear my soul. I can’t hear my God. I ask a friend “Can I borrow your faith in me? Can you tell me how you see me? Can you show me who you see me to be through your lenses and when you show me, can I borrow your vision of me. And for five minutes, I will see myself how they see me. Sometimes I take notes and sometimes I record it. There have been times when I have been laying in a hotel bed, playing a recording of my father or my mother or a girlfriend or my grandmother, playing it in my sleep with tears on my pillow, borrowing their faith in me for the days when my faith in myself waivers and wanes.
You inspire so many people. Who inspires you?
My grandmothers; one is still living and they are the cornerstones of my life. Martin Luther King inspires me to be an example. Mother Teresa, Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela inspire me. They were willing to do the work because it was the right thing to do. They were willing to take a stand in the face of opposition. They didn’t do it for the money. They did it for the leagacy of transforming the planet. They led by action. My role as a speaker is to lead by action of who I choose to be in the world. They are my mentors. I have a legion of amazing angels and powerful people standing up on my shoulders.
You are going to be speaking in New Jersey next week. By the time people leave, what major take-away message do you want them to truly absorb?
In this climate, the first thing I want them to absorb is that your bounceback muscle is stronger than ever, whatever you might be going through, you have the ability to bounce back. Your determination muscle, your resilence muscle, your faith muscle are constantly being developed by the circumstances that are going on around you, being very specific where you are. When you choose to stand in your greatness, unapologetically, your future becomes very recognizable. You are able to create a breathtaking future and that future is available to every single one of us. To give some very clear goal setting, some very practical business steps as entrepreneurs for how to create a sustainable business model so that you can live your dreams. It’s not going to be all rah rah. I’m going to inspire the soul and give applicable direction for what you can do to make your business succeed and what you do that makes your business fail. As much as I am going to spend time on possibilities, I will also talk about what creates the breakdown. We are going to have a very juicy, delicious, candid conversation that is laced with great insight as a business owner as well as great inspiration as an individual. I want people to walk away with some of the very clear next steps for their business. I am going to supercharge, recharge and educate everyone.
http://youtu.be/jMYJjuRrjeU Lisa Nichols The Secret To Attract Anything
http://lisanicholsmonetize-efbevent.eventbrite.com/ Lisa will be speaking on November 17th in New Jersey.
A portion of the proceeds for this evening’s event will be donate to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund. https://sandynjrelieffund.org/index.html
Coming upon this aptly titled song this morning (although I have heard it before), was Divinely timed. Singer-songwriter Julie Gold (writer of the anthemic From A Distance) had it on her Facebook page and it put a smile on my face, because of its poignant message and because I have had the joy of meeting and interviewing the man singing it. Pete Seeger is considered an icon of the folk music world and with good reason. He has always written and performed pieces that have emerged from his conscience and his heart. Now at 93 and amazingly spry and resilient, he is stilling singing out strong. Those of us of a certain age will know that he wrote If I Had A Hammer, Turn, Turn, Turn and Where Have All The Flowers Gone? They were staples in my childhood and likely helped to form my social conscience as well.
The past two weeks have brought with it, ample opportunity to exercise our collective social conscience. Here on the East Coast of the United States, people faced an act of nature that brought with it, rising and falling waters, as well as tempestuous winds that caused devastation and destruction. Dubbed “Frankenstorm” and “Superstorm Sandy”, it reminded me of the experience our family had in 1992, when Hurricane Andrew ripped through Homestead, Florida and took our house with it. As it did then, and as it does in any meterological event, it brought out both the best and worst in human nature. Fortunately, price gouging and looting were far overshadowed by altruism and people really taking care of each other and the animals that were impacted by the storm. Family, friends and strangers alike were rising to the occasion, rising above the flood waters, as it were, to offer prayers, shelter, showers, phone and computer charging, food, water, transportation, money. Would that this be the case all year round, without a crisis precipitating these acts of kindness. As I am typing these words, ensconced in my cozy home that has electricity, solid walls and ceiling and running water, countless homes are still without those creature comforts that we often take for granted.
Earlier in the week, in the midst of the Presidential election, folks again were called on to put aside political affiliation and see those on the other side of the divide, as people with different opinions….not the enemy. Regardless of whether you are happy with the outcome of the election, it is essential that we all do what we can to, as I have said alot lately, “feed the collective soup pot.” One person can’t do it alone. No governmental leader has a magic wand. And just as we human beings count on God (whoever/whatever you perceive that Source to be) for our sustenance and support, my take is that God counts on us too to come together and see beyond ideology. There is no room for hatred. We simply can’t, as a species, afford it if we want to thrive.
Last night, I was having a conversation with a woman who has a strong sense of faith that has carried her through all kinds of loss. She is one of the most bubbly and vibrant people I have ever met…smiling and scattering love wherever she goes. She told me that she “loves the Lord so much,” and tells Him (as she thinks of the Divine) that she can’t help but tell other people how much they are loved. She isn’t preachy, she simply lives her faith in her actions and her words.
So, how can God count on you today?
http://youtu.be/cvnsB_kVNYI God’s Counting On Me, God’s Counting On You-Pete Seeger
My friend and fellow wordsmith Jacob Nordby (author of The Divine Arsonist) has created a sensation with these simple phrases that have been showing up all over the internet. There is a method to his madness as he and sister weirdo Barb Black are designing a product line meant to highlight the importance of honoring diversity and uniqueness, rather than seeing anyone different as odd or outcast. Enter the world of Blessed Are The Weird. When I first saw this, I laughed knowingly. I have always felt a little strange, telling my parents that I was an alien baby left on their doorstep. I imagine that many who are reading this might let their freak flag fly too and claim their wonderful weirdness.
How would you define the word ‘weird’?
“Weird” to me just means: a different way of seeing the world. It means that gift of an anomalous perspective which opens a peephole of genius perception.
Where did the idea come from for Blessed Are The Weird?
My purpose in this is to re-frame the meaning of the word itself. I want the “normal” world to better see the genius which lies within so many who might not fit a certain societal model of looks or be able to navigate socially with ease. I want people to understand that Einstein and Edison and Anais Nin and you, Edie, are brilliantly weird. We value the big names and allow them freedom to be eccentric, but it is my deep conviction that everyone harbors genius within. Those who live on the fringes of society are often in better touch with their genius, but they don’t know how to express it in ways the rest of the world can understand. I want them to have more space to do just that in our culture.
Who will this project benefit?
Blessed Are The Weird will benefit many by virtue of displaying their work on our site. But we have committed to give a portion of the proceeds from all sales of “Weird Gear” to organizations which work with Bullied Kids in schools.
What do you think is at the root of bullying?
Fear. Any bully is afraid of him or herself. They see in a weaker, weirder person an aspect of themselves that they are terrified will come out.
What can people do to support those who feel like they don’t fit in…the square peg as it were?
The greatest possible gift any of us square pegs can get is love and encouragement. You have given me this gift time after time. I’m very grateful for that. If people like you and several other very dear friends hadn’t come along with critical encouragement, I wouldn’t have had the courage to share my best stuff with the world.
What risks do you take each day in the service of weirdness, while still maintaining a foothold in the so-called normal world of being a family and professional man?
That’s a great question, Edie. Almost every day I am confronted with the choice whether to try to appear “professional” (or successful or smart, or whatever) or share what is begging to be born. I’ve been blessed with friends from around the world who are the wind beneath my wings and keep encouraging me. There are some awkward, vulnerable moments, but I’m learning better every day that I belong here and have something valuable to share–as we all do.
When you wrote the ‘weird’ beatitude, did you ever imagine it would go viral?
I am completely flummoxed by all of this. I know that these words and the feelings they evoke are not mine. They came through me and I’m just grateful to be of service.
Jewel’s song “Life Uncommon” is absolutely my theme song.