The Most Important Thing You Wear

“Your expression is the most important thing you wear.”

—Author Unknown

Image from Unsplash

Putting our best foot forward, making a good first impression, and the general way we present ourselves to the world couldn’t be more important these days.

We know that people are judging us all the time. What you are wearing, literally? And what physical expressions are people observing about you?

Examining your current attitudes, moods, emotions, and feelings may provide some clues to how open and receptive people may be to you. This almost always impacts the success of our personal and professional relationships.

I tend to be a very serious person. My wife Wendy frequently asks me if I’m OK. When I say, “Yes, I am,” she often coaches me by saying, “Inform your face!”

EXERCISE:

How and in what ways can you become more aware of the expressions you wear in public? How can you use your expressions to enhance the personal and professional success you desire? A genuine smile is a great place to start.

Make Sense Out of Change

“Make sense out of change by plunging into it, moving with it, and joining in the dance.”

—Author Unknown

Image of boy diving from a boat

Image from Lakehouse Lifestyle

As we move through the stages of adult life, most of us become a bit more set in our ways. There is nothing particularly wrong with that. We often find comfort in our rituals, habits, and routines.

Without a direct invitation from us, however, the world increasingly knocks or, in some cases, pounds on our doors, bringing all kinds of change into our personal and professional worlds.

What if, instead of bolting our doors or barricading ourselves into our comfortable worlds, we opened ourselves to more opportunities and adventures by moving, plunging and dancing with these changes?

EXERCISE:

Where would a more open, welcoming, “try it on” approach to the changes around you make the biggest, most positive difference? Consider opening this door, or better yet, stepping right out there and joining the dance!

To Drift is to Be in Hell

“To drift is to be in Hell. To be in Heaven is to Steer.”

—George Bernard Shaw, Irish Playwright

Image of hands on the steering wheen

Image from Unsplash

Consider how you feel when you read these phrases:

  • I feel stuck
  • I’ve plateaued in my career
  • My life has no direction
  • I’m lost
  • I’m not getting anywhere
  • I’m bored

Try on these phrases instead:

  • I’m excited about the day ahead!
  • I can’t wait to get there!
  • I feel passionate and purposeful each day
  • I am working toward my goal of …
  • My focus and efforts will get me there!

EXERCISE:

Where do you feel adrift, personally or professionally?

How can you experience greater happiness by steering and guiding your life in a more heavenly direction?

A light heart lives long

“A light heart lives long.”

—Irish Gaelic Proverb

Image of two old women laughing

Image from Flickr by Patrick

Did you know that workplace stress has been proven to increase the risk of heart attacks and shorten your life span? I am sure you could list five or ten other factors that make the impact even worse!

Listed below are are some lighthearted or heart-related activities, proven effective to add both years to your life and life to your years.

  • Laughter: just 15 minutes of laughing at a funny video can improve blood flow to your heart by 50%, reduce blood clot formation, cholesterol deposition, and inflammation.
  • Optimism, meditation, and other mindfulness efforts help us view the world through a more hopeful and lighthearted lens.
  • A short nap or frequent breaks in your day to recharge have been shown to reduce coronary mortality by 37%.
  • Social engagements which include family, faith, and other forms of community involvement help us lighten our burdens, share more joy, and fill our hearts.

EXERCISE:

Explore at least one of the strategies above to brighten and lengthen your days and let me know what happens.

Consider replying to this post with some of your own lighthearted strategies to live a longer, more fulfilling life.

Keep the Bigger Perspective in Mind

“Keep the bigger perspective in mind, not getting caught in life’s little whirlpools.”

—Barbara Ann Kipfer, Author of Self-Meditation

Image of a whirlpool

Image from Clipartfest

What are some of the events in your personal or professional life that have brought you down, upset you, or even caused you to feel angry?

Select just one event, and play with it through a variety of perspectives to see if you can rise out of the downward spiral.

Who in your world would barely notice the issue, or not be impacted at all? How would they view this issue?

Who do you know who would find the lesson in this issue and use the silver lining to better their life?

Who in your life is creative and innovate, always finding a way to achieve their objectives in spite of obstacles or challenges?

EXERCISE:

What new and different approaches and perspectives can you try to better navigate the swirling whirlpools that pull you down?

Consider asking some of the people you identified above for their coaching.

The Past Should Be a Springboard

“The past should be a springboard, not a hammock.”

—Ivern Ball, Dadaist Poet and Writer

Image of a man standing on the end of a diving board

Image from DivSanDiego

I once heard that as we age, the ideal “Happy Hour” is a good nap.

Who doesn’t enjoy some well-needed rest to rejuvenate from time to time?

Our past achievements and successes can sometimes lull us into complacency or even a bit of a snooze by reliving the memory as if it was happening in the present.

Today’s quote urges us to see past events as a springboard for even more remarkable achievements and successes that lie ahead of us.

EXERCISE:

How can and will you use your past accomplishments and success as a springboard to dive into the deep end of your greatest potential?

Go as Long as you Can

“Go as long as you can, and then take another step.”

—Author Unknown

Image from Pinterest

How often do you hear yourself or others say, “I did my best”?

What percentage of the time is that statement true?

If you are like me and many others, we almost always leave a little in the tank, knowing that if we truly gave our all and failed, something terrible would happen.

Failing, knowing you could have studied more, worked harder, and gone farther somehow makes our less than optimal results seem OK. We say things like:

  • At least I passed
  • I was in the upper quartile of my class
  • I made partner quicker than most in my firm

EXERCISE:

Experiment today in taking one more step, doing one more rep of your exercise, making one more call, or working one extra hour. Reach out to one more friend or help one more person.

Notice the energy you experience, and don’t be surprised if there is still more in the tank, ready to go!

The Right Path is Not the Easiest

“Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one.”

—Grandmother Willow, in Disney’s Pocahontas

Image of Pocahontas with Grandmother Willow

Image from The Disney Diva

Take a few minutes to go back in time to your high school and college years.

Identify the teacher and the course that made the biggest difference.

I’ll bet that in many cases the lessons learned or the impact gained still influences your life today.

What was the level of effort required to excel and achieve the benefits?

How significantly were you challenged to go beyond the path of least resistance and conventional thinking, to reap the reward you experience to this day?

EXERCISE:

Where in your personal or professional world are you taking the easy path that just doesn’t feel right?

Where would summoning your courage, boldness, persistence, and tenacity on a path you know is right make all the difference to your future success and happiness?

Be a Gardener of Life

“Be a Gardener of Life.”

—Author Unknown

Image from Unsplash by Gaetano Cessati

Image from Unsplash by Gaetano Cessati

It is springtime in Michigan. We delight in the longer days, warmer temperatures, and the abundance of new growth we see everywhere.

All around, people are tuning up their lawnmowers, raking out flower beds, buying grass seed, garden flowers, and vegetables they intend to harvest during the summer and fall.

Given today’s quote, I suggest we plant, grow, cultivate and harvest some additional crops, including:

Patience Forgiveness Generosity Optimism
Kindness Service Curiosity Courage
Optimism Mindfulness Faith Family

EXERCISE:

Where and in what ways can and will you attend to your own life garden?

Feel free to respond to this post with other areas / seeds you intend to plant and harvest this season.

Will this make life meaningfully better

“Will this make people’s lives meaningfully better?”

—Dave Kashen, CEO at Worklife

word "make a difference" handwritten on blackboard

Image from MAP Professional Development

As a coach for over 25 years, I have a great fondness for powerful and provocative questions. More often than not, I have a very strong preference for those deeply curious and probing questions that begin with who, what, where, when, why, and how.

Today’s quote is an exception in that it is closed-ended and requires us to determine if our answer is Yes or No.

Most people value making a difference and contributing to those around them. Perhaps we can all use this question to keep us focused on the priority of living an even more meaningful life.

EXERCISE:

Consider writing this question on a few Post-it-Notes and placing them where you will see them in your personal and professional spaces. Please feel free to write me about what value this exercise provided you and others over the coming weeks.