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Don’t Just Show Up: Be a Linchpin & Stand Out

Don’t Just Show Up: Be a Linchpin & Stand Out


“Wait! Are you saying that I have to stop following instructions and start being an artist? Someone who dreams up new ideas and makes them real? Someone who finds new ways to interact, new pathways to deliver emotion, new ways to connect? Someone who acts like a human, not a cog? Me? YES!” Linchpin, by Seth Godin

You have two choices.

1) Get a job, earn a salary, get health insurance and strive for security; or

2) Do work you enjoy, make a difference and unlock the genius you’ve been hiding.

Are you choosing “conventional”? Or “revolutionary”?

Showing up or standing out?

Following the rules or creating the rules?

One book that has inspired me and altered the course of my life is Seth Godin’s Linchpin. Although the book came out in 2010 and I read it only a couple of years ago, I wanted to take a moment to share its insights with you.
Will this book change your life the way it changed mine?

In Linchpin, Seth gives you a choice between two options: either to be a cog in the giant industrial machine, just one small part that makes the machine run; or to stand out and become a linchpin, an essential and crucial piece that’s irreplaceable.

You can be a worker. Or an artist.

Your two choices.

Seth equates today’s white collar workers to factory workers.

“It’s factory work because it’s planned, controlled, and measured. It’s factory work because you can optimize for productivity. These workers know what they are going to do all day – and it’s still morning.”

But it doesn’t end there. Today “machines have replaced those workers. Worse, much worse, is that competitive pressures (and greed) have encouraged most organizations to turn their workers into machines,” Seth writes. “If we can measure it, we can do it faster. If we can put it in a manual, we can outsource it. If we can outsource it, we can get it cheaper…”

Seth’s premise in Linchpin is that you should challenge the working world of today – refuse to be a cog in the machine. Refuse to simply show up and stick it out.

“The only way to succeed is to be remarkable, to be talked about,” Seth writes.

Your new role in the world is to “be remarkable. Be generous. Create art. Make judgment calls. Connect people and ideas.”

Be impossibly good at your job. Be more human, less machine.

“When you’re not a cog in a machine, an easily replaceable commodity, you’ll get paid what you’re worth. Which is more.”

Less busy work. More art.

Fewer directions. More inspiration.

Less about what you get. More about what you can give.

How do you stand out and become irreplaceable in the world?

1) Be an artist.

Seth talks about how artists are indispensable linchpins.

“Art is scarce; scarcity creates value,” he writes.

And by no means is he implying that you need to start painting and creating sculptures before your next business endeavor.

“Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator.”

Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does.

You can create art not by singing a song or writing poetry. You can create art by affecting someone, inspiring someone, creating a change in others.

You become an artist when you find a new way to do things. You’re an artist when you create joy or pleasure for another person. You’re an artist when you do something original.

And you’re doing all these things not for money, but for the sake of giving and changing people.

“The reason you might choose to embrace the artist within you now is that this is the path to (cue the ironic music) security. When it is time for layoffs, the safest job belongs to the artist, the linchpin, the one who can’t be easily outsourced or replaced,” writes Seth.

And if you’re wondering, you don’t have to quit your job to do this. You can be creative, original, inspiring and generous in the very joy you’re currently experiencing. You can care and you can make an impact on someone by changing the way you think about your work.

“Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo, and changing people.”

2) Give away your art.

Now is not the time to think that Seth Godin wants you to become a pauper and live on the streets, selling your watercolor artwork.

“When art is created solely to be sold, it’s only a commodity. A key element for the artist is the act of giving the art to someone in the tribe,” Seth writes.

When you give away something you care about because of love, care or inspiration, you are offering something that cannot be adequately repaid – and that’s okay. You deliver so much value that people have no choice but to be grateful for and appreciative of your art.

Your smile, your act of courtesy, your thoughtful gesture, your connection with someone in the same industry, your introducing that person to a wine she’ll love – all are small examples of gifts that make you invaluable. Indispensable.

Your small acts of art, given generously, make you a linchpin.

Don’t do it for the money, but for the love of it and for the sake of changing people’s lives. The money will come.

Seth challenges us to give not because we want to receive, but simply as an act of love.

3) Be unique.

Seth relays the stories of Louis Vuitton, Hermes and other French artisans who embraced handmade luxury goods that took time and care to produce.

“Mechanizing and cheapening the process would have made it easy for others to copy. Relying on humanity made it difficult – it made the work done in France scarce, and scarcity creates value.”

Don’t go for the easiest or the cheapest route.

Whatever situation you’re in, ask yourself, “What would the artist do here?” How can you make something special or different to improve the final product? How do you inspire and make your customer’s experience stand out?

4) Raise the bar.

“The problem with meeting expectations is that it’s not remarkable. It won’t change the recipient of the work, and it’s easy to emulate (which makes you easy to replace).”

Choose to be remarkable instead, Seth preaches. In fact, if you can’t be remarkable or exceptional in what you’re doing, don’t do it at all.

Stay away from humdrum, average and already been done. What is the game changer? What can you do that is art?

What can you do that will change someone’s life?

You can do something exceptional as a courtroom lawyer or as a telephone receptionist.

Raise the roof if you have to.

5) Become an expert to question how things are done.

“Expertise gives you enough insight to reinvent what everyone else assumes is the truth,” Seth writes.

If you understand better than anyone else the products you’re working on or the topic you’re writing about, you’ll have more breakthroughs and big ideas.

Mastering a subject or a field allows you to do something special in that field. The better you know something, the more likely you’ll know what’s missing, what doesn’t work or how to make something better.

The more you know, the greater your ability to make meaningful changes.

6) Maintain empathy and engagement.

You’re not paid to care, but you’re freely able to do so.

You don’t have to talk to anyone, but doing so can change someone’s day or improve someone’s life.

Can you look for ways to help people and improve the situation? Can you think about the small things that you can do to show you care?

Can these things be as simple as a smile or a “How are you?”

Can kindness, generosity and common courtesy be art? I’d venture to say, yes!!

7) Break the rules.

The easy thing to do is to learn the rules and follow them. There are rule books, policy manuals and employee handbooks. There are instructions that tell you what to do, and bosses who tell you how to do it.

Can you do it differently even if it means bending the rules?

Can you find a more effective solution? A more creative one? A solution that delivers more value to the people you’re serving?

Are you willing to step on toes to introduce an unexpected solution, or go against the usual way of doing things so that you stand out?

Yes, you might be disciplined or fired. But in Seth’s world, the linchpin says, “If I lean enough, it’s okay if I get fired, because I’ll have demonstrated my value to the marketplace. If the rules are the only thing between me and becoming indispensable, I don’t need the rules.”

Following the rules? Or breaking them and creating new ones?

8) Stay passionate.

Artists are passionate about their jobs and passionate about doing important work that gives a gift to others.

Seth writes that “transferring your passion to your job is far easier than finding a job that happens to match your passion.”

Interesting, and contrary to what we’ve been told. It may be the one point I slightly disagree with Seth on.

It may be easier to transfer your passion to your job, but it’s more fulfilling and satisfying to search for your purpose in the world and pursue that thing you were made to do.

Getting passionate about something you’re not interested in is more difficult, I’d argue, than finding what makes you jump out of bed in the morning.

But can you get passionate about aspects or parts of a job you’re already doing?

I’d say, either way, the bottom line is to do work that inspires passion. Either find a new job or discover what you’re passionate about in the work you’re doing.

9) Ship.

In Seth’s world, “ship means hitting the publish button on your blog, showing a presentation to the sales team, answering the phone, selling the muffins, sending out your references.”

Shipping is getting it done. It’s getting the product out the door. Delivering your project to the computer.

If you’re having trouble completing something, you’re likely facing resistance. The solution a la Seth: “Call its bluff, ship always, and then change the world.”

As a linchpin, confront your inner fears and face the resistance you feel.

Your product may not be perfect, but it’s better to get something out the door.

“Shipping something out the door, doing it regularly, without hassle, emergency, or fear – this is a rare skill, something that makes you indispensable,” Seth concludes.

10) Break through the resistance.

People may not like your ideas.

You might fail.

You might be laughed at or fired.

Some of these fears and doubts will stand between you and your work.

The resistance, Seth writes, seeks comfort or wants to hide. Seth encourages you to get uncomfortable when facing resistance.

When you’re feeling uncomfortable, “you’re doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they’re hiding out in the comfortable zone.”

The only solution to breaking through the resistance, Seth tells us, “is to call all the bluffs at once, to tolerate no rational irrational reason to hold back on your art. The only solution is to start today, to start now, and to ship.”
Finally, you may be wondering what art to make and what gifts to share with the world around you.

That question is the “crux of it. Once you commit to being an artist, the question is an obvious one. The answer is the secret to your success. You must make a map. Not someone else. You.”

Linchpin can change your life if you adopt the revolution that Seth is asking you to lead. The power is not in society’s hands or your boss’s hands.

You’re the artist. You’re the linchpin and you can make it happen.

To purchase Linchpin, click here. For coaching to help you discover your art and become the linchpin of your life, click here.

Photo Credit @MarinadelCastell

What is a Life Coach and Why Your Life Needs One Already!

What is a Life Coach and Why Your Life Needs One Already!


When you’re stuck on the road, you need a car coach. We call him a mechanic.

When you’re days away from your 20th high school reunion and want to lose 20 pounds fast, you need a gym coach. We call her a trainer.

And if you’re trying to eat healthier or switch to a vegetarian diet, you need … yes … a cooking coach. They do exist!

But what exactly is a life coach?

In a nutshell, a life coach is someone who helps you live the life you want to live.

At first, some lovely people, like your parents or boss at work might seem like life coaches.

They’ll say things like, “Get an MBA” “Take the promotion,” “Buy a house,” or “Put in the hours to move up the command chain.” However, one small problem exists with this kind of coaching … it may have nothing whatsoever to do with what you want out of life.

When you end up pleasing others and receiving coaching from people who want the best for you, but ultimately want you to do what THEY want you to do, you’ll live a miserable life. You’ll live someone else’s life. You’ll live a society-prescribed life that won’t fulfill YOU.

A life coach is an agent who helps you tap into your highest self, discover what you want and figure out how to get there.

Once you work with a coach to discover what it is you want out of life, you will then begin the road to achieving it.

See, a lot of times in our lives, before we accomplish anything – a goal, a dream, a life-changing decision – we have to confront our beliefs, value systems and limiting thoughts.

Most of the time our minds crush our dreams and goals before we start.

A life coach can help you examine your beliefs, get aligned with your intuition and overcome the objections or obstacles in front of you.

A life coach can help you gain clarity by listening intently, helping you see what’s going on in your life and helping you shift your perspective so that you can move forward.

If you have no idea what you want to do with your life or what the reason for your existence is, a life coach can help.

If your professional career frustrates you and you want more control of your work life – a work life that’s more personally satisfying – a life coach can help.

If you need to stop moving in one direction and change course (while following an action plan that will help you do just that), call a life coach!

What can life coaching do for you?

Life coaching can help you face the resistance and limiting beliefs that prevent you from living your best life.

Life coaching can help you get to where you want to be. It’s like GPS for your life, without the annoying “wrong turn” messages your GPS machine barks at you.

Life coaching can help you evaluate your choices, clarify decisions and get super clear about your “why” in life – yes, your purpose!

Sure, you can “figure it out” on your own, but that could require the passage of several years, a number of therapy sessions and the emergence of dramatic circumstances that force you to take action. Or you can cut the crap, start being accountable to yourself and do what your heart desires today.

Will your coach hypnotize you or put you under a spell? (or, what tools do life coaches use?)

Most likely, your life coach won’t hypnotize you, dunk you underwater or cast a spell on you.

Life coaches rely on the power of listening, powerful questions and intuition (both theirs and your own) to move you toward the best course of action for your life.

It’s important to note that a life coach doesn’t tell you what you “should” or “need” to do with your life. A coach guides you so that you discover your values, goals and dreams, and then helps you bring them to life.

Life coaches challenge you when you feel you can’t, believe it won’t work or never thought of trying.

They re-frame and shift your perspective, ask what you can learn from a hopeless situation, show you how to move on in the face of failure and even help you discover the lessons you can learn from your current circumstances.

They help you brainstorm, stay accountable and stay true to your dreams when the going gets tough and the resistance creeps in.

They focus on helping you get unstuck and make those changes you desire in your life, relationships and career.

When is the best time to get a life coach?

There is no good or bad time for a coach.

Many people find coaching necessary during low points in their lives or when they face transitional circumstances.

If you’re stuck, if you’ve fallen down or if you feel knocked down by a roller-coaster set of life events (divorce, breakup, job dissatisfaction), you might consider coaching.

But you don’t need to be down on your luck or facing Godzilla-size problems to seek help from a life coach.

If you feel as though you’re not moving ahead in life, if you feel shackled by your fears, or if you simply trudge along without a purpose or mission, it may be time to get a coach.

If you know you could be doing a lot better than you are now and want to live a richer or more fulfilling life, consider life coaching.

What makes a good life coach?

A life coach should have three critical skills.

It’s my view that listening and presence are the most valuable tools a life coach offers. A coach must be capable of understanding what you’re saying and uncovering what you may be denying or resisting. They must be willing to shut up and listen so that they can get to the root of your frustrations and struggles.

A good life coach also knows the power of relevant questions and curiosity. They use questions to unearth your desires and discover your calling. Questions will help uncover your limiting beliefs and self-doubts.

Finally, intuition is an important part of the life coaching process. A good life coach can tap into his or her intuition and help you see things that might not be readily visible. Not only will you benefit from the life coach’s intuitive touch, you’ll find that your own intuition becomes clearer.

Those gut feelings are more accurate than you can imagine. Be prepared to tune in and let your strong internal whispers guide you.

How is a life coach different from a therapist?

In life coaching, you and your coach sit on the same couch.

Your coach does not interrogate, interview, examine or diagnose you.

You don’t delve into your past, heal emotional wounds or try to figure out what went wrong. A life coach can’t cure depression or anxiety, or offer a medical diagnosis.

Life coaches deal with the here and now. They take your life as it is and help you make improvements to it. It’s a collaborative and co-active process that helps you design and achieve your best life.

Life coaches believe that you have the answers and help you navigate your beliefs and values toward a place of fulfillment.

Therapists treat you for specific conditions and help you cope emotionally.

Life coaches help you navigate life and live the life you want.

Why did you need a life coach yesterday?

Sure, you might “figure it out” on your own or start on your dreams “someday,” but if that someday is long overdue, you needed a life coach yesterday.

If you’re stuck and frustrated because you haven’t made any movement in your life and you need a catalyst to get going, you needed a life coach yesterday.

If you decided to run a marathon, save the Bengal tiger or take some action toward a new career but didn’t get out of bed until noon, you probably needed a life coach yesterday.

Is now the time for life coaching?

If you’re tired of living a mediocre life or feel unfulfilled and trapped by the life you’re living, it’s time for you to coach up.

You can do it on your own, but a coach just might help you accelerate the process by a year or two or ten.

Are you ready for life coaching today?

*If you’re in need of coaching that will help you discover your purpose or transition out of a un-fulfilling career, visit my coaching page here.

*Photo credit

9 Common but Reckless Lies Society Spreads

9 Common but Reckless Lies Society Spreads


When someone repeats something over and over you tend to believe it.

Even if it’s a lie.

Society has perpetuated these falsities throughout our lives, and everyone and their mother has bought into these ideas as “common sense.”

Yet when you question or challenge these ideas, society punches back swiftly, with brute force.

Society doesn’t like anyone who rocks the boat or takes a different path because…you might become happy and fulfilled.

And you might do it on your own terms.

And that’s just…not right.

Society wants you to play by its rules. It wants to be the rule-setter. It wants to be the law-creator and the dream-master. It wants to tell you yay or nay.

Society wants you to succeed on its terms, not yours.

And who is the ubiquitous society that lies to you?

Oh, you know, Mom and Dad. Uncle Lou. The Cooper family next door. The O’Brien family down the street. Nana and Dadaji.

Your community: El Dorado Hills. Folsom. Davis. Yuba City. Fremont. Pleasanton. Visakhapatnam. Chennai. Kolkata. Bangalore. Pune. Hyderabad. Singapore. Hong Kong. Shanghai. Osaka. Kuala Lumpur. Tokyo.

Pretty much anywhere you live in the world.

Your radio station. Your TV shows and telenovelas. Your Hollywood movies and Bollywood cinema (especially your Bollywood cinema!!).

Your Facebook feed, Instagram account and Twitter feed.

Celebrities and politicians.

Authors and journalists.

Your teachers and professors. Your career guidance counselors. Your mentors.

Newspapers and television news.

So how do you combat these lies?

You wake up!

Become aware that society is feeding you a bunch of bold-faced lies.

Challenge society’s assumptions and dictates.

Do what’s right for you and ignore the thundering buzz of lies that society feeds you.

Wake up. Stand up.

Stand up for your own happiness and live your own truth.

9 Lies Society Desperately Needs You to Believe

1)    You need top schools and high marks for success.

This is the boldest-faced lie of all. Society feeds it to you from the day you start kindergarten.

All over the world, you hear that your marks and grades in school are what count.

Creativity. Character. Compassion. Kindness. It doesn’t matter. How you do on your next exam matters. How you do in school determines how much your family accepts you. How you perform correlates to how much love you receive.

And how well you do directly relates to your future success.

While, yes, better grades get you into better schools, better colleges and higher-paying jobs – is that really what success is about?

If success is about being happy, not rich, then society is lying to you like an expensive Persian rug.

Top schools and high marks are for people who don’t have confidence and who need external rankings and reputations to validate themselves.

If you have initiative, drive and confidence, focus on what interests you and what you’re passionate about.

Don’t allow your grades to determine your value.

2)   You need graduate school and a professional degree to be a success.

You don’t need a &(@_!*! degree from a prestigious university, mate. You need confidence and you need to believe in yourself.

Unfortunately, they don’t teach that class at Yale or Cambridge.

Even if you go to a top graduate program or pick up a fancy professional degree, you have no idea if you’re going to be happy or successful in that field.

You have no more certainty that you’re going to pursue your purpose or find your dream job.

Be patient with the path. Since your dream job won’t find you, go out there and seek a variety of opportunities to help you eliminate jobs and careers that don’t fit.

Run away furiously from soul-crushing work; find work that brings you joy and makes you jump out of bed in the morning.

Do you really need a degree from a top school, considering that many millionaires dropped out of college, many billionaires went to average schools and many successful people never finished high school?

Graduate degrees leave you with debt, consume years of your life and force you to specialize in one career track.

If you’re uncertain about your abilities and if fear paralyzes you, go to a top school.

If you believe in yourself, find work that you’re good at and that you’re passionate about.

3)   Pursuing your dreams is for the foolish and naïve.

If you quit your job and write poetry, people will think you’ve lost your mind. A society that sees you as a threat to convention will meet your independence and creativity with resistance.

“Who do you think you are?” it will smirk.

It’s never too early or too late to follow your dreams. And you don’t have to drop everything to start on them.

You don’t have to quit your job, sell your house and live on the streets to launch your music career.

Take small steps today to transition to or create your dream job. You can use a volunteer position, time after the kids have gone to bed, or the weekends to nurture your dreams.

Take small but consistent steps, even if you have a family or financial obligations. Work on your dreams every day. Create time for your dreams.

Society wants you to pursue your dreams only when you’re financially well-off or retired, but don’t delay on getting started.

Start today.

4)   You need to become a homeowner and own the biggest house you can afford.

When you own a home, as I did in the past, you have a regular monthly mortgage and obligations. This comes with financial worries, continuous expenses and a lifetime of regular upkeep.

A home, they say, will bring financial stability.

But…it will also constrict your life, limit your freedom and keep you stuck in a life you may not want.

Without a home, you can save and invest more of your money in your future.

Without a home, you can travel more and pursue your dreams more vigorously.

You won’t have a constant financial commitment that you’ll work a lifetime to pay off.

The real estate industry and the “American dream” want you to buy into the nonsense that a house = security + stability + a set financial future. Well, the industry profits plenty when you buy a home.

Without a giant financial commitment, you’ll be free to live your life instead of feeding the never-ending house-monster.

You can find financial stability without a home. You’ll also have freedom, peace of mind and more money to do what you want.

5)   The bigger your salary, the more success you’ll have (and the happier you’ll be).

Having enough money to cover your basic life necessities is important, but why tie your internal happiness to your bank balance?

Society, like your parents and teachers, wants you to believe that the longer and harder you work, the more money you’ll earn. With more money, you can buy more things.

Society leads you to believe that the more possessions you own and the more junk you collect, the happier you’ll be.

Reality and the research show that your happiness plateaus after you reach a salary of $75,000.

If you buy into society’s construct of money and wealth, you will need more money to buy the things society insists will bring you happiness.

Retailers need your money. Corporations need your money. Luxury car makers need your money. Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue need your money.

Hopefully, you realize that you don’t need gadgets, furniture, jewelry or cars to bring you happiness.

You can find happiness by simply being and choosing to be so.

You can be happy by being thankful for what you have.

You can cultivate happiness by serving others.

You can find happiness in family and friendship.

You can find happiness in doing work that is meaningful and in activities that feed your passion.

And you can buy all this happiness for $0.

6)   Simple living = poor living

You can survive while owning less stuff. Yes, you can.

Without material possessions, you can find yourself in breathtaking scenery, among rich cultures and traditions, and in the company of inspirational people.

All you have to do is look around and acknowledge what you have. The most dazzling beaches may be a mere 15 minutes from where you live. The little remote village you’re staying in may have stunning views and sunsets.

Without much money, you can have rich experiences – experiences money can’t buy. Take a free tour of a nearby gallery, visit a mystical city or take a walking tour to see the wonders of where you live.

Broaden your network of friends so you can share music, poetry, art, recipes, travel stories and other experiences with each other.

Having less stuff and richer experiences allows for greater connection with the world and for more intimate relationships.

You can escape the excessive consumerism and materialism of today’s society.

You can live simply and enjoy rich experiences and an abundance of happiness.

7)   You need a life partner (and a kid) to be complete.

Every Disney story and every fairytale you’ve heard in every Taylor Swift song on the radio remind you that you’re not enough if you’re single.

Society wants you to be part of a couple. And can’t imagine someone being happy alone.

Society wants you to experience the “joys” of couplehood and marriage. Society wants you to have (raise and pay for) a kid as well.

When you’re hitched and have a kid, you’re complete. You can buy bigger real estate, own two cars and get more stuff.

A family is a consumer-driven society’s fantasy – the bigger the family unit, the more you spend.

Don’t buy into this lie that society has perpetuated for generations. Just because everyone’s doing it (getting hitched) doesn’t mean you have to.

Cameron Diaz, Oprah, actress Tabu, Padma Lakshmi, Cory Booker and Condoleezza Rice are a handful of the rich and famous who have not.

And you don’t have to either. Don’t get hitched because society expects you to.

Or your mother. Or your grandmother.

Fight the world that wants you to put a ring on it. If you don’t want him to put a ring on it, keep your hands in your pockets!

Instead of seeking a perfect partner, seek to become a better version of yourself.

Then find a partner who enhances you or makes you better, not someone who completes you.

Be complete.

8)   World travel is for the rich and famous.

Why travel today when you can wait until you’re rich, famous or retired?

Of course, if you look at packaged tours or mainstream travel publications that include all-in-one packages, travel seems out of reach.

But if you look at more creative travelers, backpackers and do-it-yourself nomads, you’ll find that traveling is way cheaper than you think.

Here’s an excellent post about all the different options for saving more, spending less and getting the most out of travel. This post defeats every excuse you have about travel.

Traveling is not just for the wealthy anymore.

You can travel on the cheap if you plan ahead and do your research online. Pick up a travel guide, read blogs that help you travel cheaply, and be flexible with your travel plans. You can even travel cheap for the long term.

If world travel doesn’t entice you, why not see more of the city you live in, or check out nearby travel spots?

Travel so you can see the world around you.

Travel so you can learn new things, open your mind and have new experiences.

Travel so you can find inspiration.

Don’t push off travel ‘til you can afford it or you have time – you might not be alive by the time you’re ready.

9)  Your happiest days are ahead.

Society reminds you constantly that where you are is not enough.

If you do x, y and z, you’ll find the happiness you desire.

You’ll be happy when you buy that jacket or own that car or live in that house.

Peace of mind, happiness and fulfilled dreams are all in the future.

Wake-up call: Your best days are not ahead of you.

As spiritual author Eckhart Tolle has quipped, “It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole lives waiting to start living.”

Sure, your life circumstances and situations may improve, but why wait on better days when you can choose happiness today?

The best way to find happiness now is to live in the present moment.

Within each moment, strive to be present. Be willing to let go and accept what comes your way.

If you can find contentment and peace in the present moment, you’ll realize that your best day is today.

You can be grateful for whatever you have in your life now: the good, the bad and the challenging.

You can be happy by doing things that make you happy.

Tomorrow may never come. All you have is now.

Stop the lies!

Live your truth.  

*Photo credit Unsplash

The Wisdom of Your Inner Guide

The Wisdom of Your Inner Guide


You don’t have to win the argument with your inner critic; you have to step away from the conversation.” – Tara Mohr, Playing Big

You’re not ready.

You’re not good enough. Or pretty enough. Or likable enough. Or lovable enough.

You’re not the most competent person for the job.

Ahhh…the inner critic. Our doubter, our bully and often our own worst enemy.

It’s this inner voice that holds many of us back. And in Tara Mohr’s recent book, Playing Big, she acknowledges that this internal chatter holds most women back from “playing bigger” in their lives.

“The inner critic speaks up with more viciousness and volume when we are exposing ourselves to a real or perceived vulnerability – something that triggers a fear of embarrassment, rejection, failure or pain,” Mohr writes.

Mohr notes that the stakes are even higher for women. When you play big, you follow your calling and your dreams.
When you play bigger, you open yourself to criticism, rejection and vulgarity.

You’ve seen women in politics, business and entertainment who put themselves out there or take strong positions and consequently suffer grief at the hands of the press, social media and cable talk shows.

“Our own safety instinct seeks to protect us from that external criticism by spewing cruel self-criticisms (‘You aren’t ready for that, and you don’t know what you are talking about.’) that keep us from stretching into greater visibility and encountering those kinds of attacks,” Mohr notes.

Although the inner critic’s intentions (i.e., trying to protect you from danger and criticism) are noble, its voice does not reflect reality.

So how does Mohr suggest you deal with this misguided instinct that prevents you from playing bigger in your life?

How do you change your relationship with the inner critic?

1) Label it.

Mohr suggests calling out the inner critic when you hear its negativity and doubts. As you become aware of this inner voice, acknowledge it and label it. Say to yourself, “Oh, I’m hearing my inner critic right now.”

2) Separate yourself from the inner critic.

Whatever tantrums or chatter your inner critic is spewing, remind yourself that you and the inner critic are not the same. Separate yourself from it.

3) Create a character that represents your inner critic.

For many of us, the inner critic is a voice we have heard our whole lives – our mother or teacher or another disciplinarian. It’s the voice of the person who has put us down and doubted us.

Mohr suggests taking part in a playful but effective exercise in which you create a persona for your inner critic. “When you create a character with a name and visual image, you help yourself remember that the critic is not the core of you, it’s one voice, with its own personality and pathology.”

Draw, sketch and describe this inner critic. Turn it into a fictional person, cartoon or caricature of someone you know. Describe its voice, personality and typical phrases and patterns. Name the character and capture its voice in your mind.

Turn it into something funny because, as Mohr reminds us, this character usually says something ridiculous! It’s easier to notice your inner critic if it’s Peggy Bundy, Madea, Carmela Soprano or Sophia Petrillo. You’ll not only spot your critic quicker but get a good laugh at its expense as well.

4) What is your inner critic protecting you from?

Once you can identify your inner critic’s voice and picture your critic in your mind, you’ll be better able to communicate with it.
When your critic fills you with negativity, determine what exactly it’s protecting you from.

Ask your inner critic what it’s most afraid of at the moment. What is the danger it sees?

“Once you are in touch with the root of the critic’s intentions, respond with compassion towards the critic’s misguided attempt to keep you safe – usually from attack, embarrassment, isolation or failure.”

A great line you can use to acknowledge your inner critic but also inform it that you’re okay is to respond with, “Thanks so much for your input, but I’ve got this one covered.”

5) Turn down the volume.

Once you know what your inner critic’s voice sounds like, you’ll be more aware of the times when you hear it. If the voice is stronger and louder than usual, practice lowering it as though it comes with a volume dial.

Turn down the volume on your inner voice like you would with your cell phone or your television.

You’ll still hear the inner critic, but you can determine at which volume you’ll do so. Also, by imagining that your inner voice has volume control, you can differentiate between it and yourself.

Treat your inner voice with love, compassion and understanding.

You can’t win arguments with your inner critic and you can’t be angry with it either. Both strategies will simply fuel its fire.

The inner critic, as Mohr describes it, is a scared and fearful part of ourselves. It doesn’t respond well to anger, arguments or grandiosity.

Use the previous techniques in a loving and kind way. Treat your inner voice like you would an upset or unreasonable child.

Acknowledge it, comfort it, reduce its volume and thank it for guiding you. However, feel free to tell it that you’re in control of the situation.

Be aware that, at the end of the day, although its actions and words are misguided, your inner critic is only trying to protect you.

Your wise inner guide.

Not only can you compassionately deal with your inner voice, you can discover a more empowering, wise voice within yourself.

Mohr explains a concept she learned in her coach training school. This concept has students visualizing themselves in 20 years’ time. The students meet their future selves – the people they’ll be 20 years from today.

In the visualization, converse with your “future self,” asking it questions like, “What do I need to know to get from where I am today to where you are?” and “What has been most important about the past 20 years?”

When Mohr used this “future self” tool with her coaching clients, she found that people saw themselves as their best, most loving and wisest selves. When women reflected on their future selves, they always found the answers they were looking for.

“I began to call it the inner mentor because I found this voice functioned for women as a source of guidance, a voice women could draw on to develop a vision for their lives and careers, to make difficult decisions, to chart their paths,” Mohr says.

By giving women a tool that helped them determine how their future selves would approach a situation, Mohr ensured that the women she worked with would become confident and have a clear idea of what to say and do.

“Or a woman would come in feeling stuck about how to pursue her dream career, and by imagining what her future self would do, could immediately see a path forward that felt just right to her but that she hadn’t thought of before.”

Each of us, Mohr concludes, has this inner mentor.

Within yourself, you have the answers. You have the solutions and the wisdom you need to deal with the situations you’re confronting in your life.

You, too, can conduct Playing Big’s guided visualization and access this voice of perfect wisdom.

As Mohr says, simply asking, “What would my older self do?” won’t get you there. You must complete the visualization to access your wise inner voice.

Don’t let your inner critic hold you hostage. Fully embrace the voice of wisdom – your inner mentor.

This is just the beginning of what’s possible for you in terms of achieving a bigger life. The other eight chapters of Playing Big help you navigate fear, release your attachment to praise and criticism and help you recognize and respect your calling.

If you need a set of tools and practical solutions to help you take bigger steps in your personal and professional lives, pick up Playing Big today.

Photo Credit * Splitshire