Seven Books in Seven Days – What was your last challenge?

It seemed like an easy challenge.  A friend tagged me on a social media challenge to post a picture of seven books over seven days. No reviews or explanations – just a picture of the cover of books that had impacted my life and work. With each day’s post we also invited someone from our community to join the challenge.

For me, a lover of all things words, particularly books, this would seem on the surface to be an easy task and yet it turned out that the challenge was in fact challenging.

Things don’t have to look difficult to be hard.

Sometimes, it isn’t the challenge itself that’s tripping us up. Most of the time it’s our own thoughts.

The dilemma? (and hence the challenge…) Which seven books? What’s in and what’s out?

It would have been easier if the number was larger. There was a lesson there for me. It’s a lesson all writers face at some point. Not everything we do has to encompass everything we do. When we sit down to write a book, the editing process is often the most traumatic. What comes out?

I’ve just recently completed a certification course in editing and it was an insightful look into my own processes as a writer. We want to put it all in… but the message is clearer with a bit of editing.

The same is true for our calendars. What if we only chose one thing to be our priority or focus each day for seven days? What I’m learning about myself is that if I give myself all seven on day one, on day seven, none of them are finished. When I tackle them day by day – they get done.

I’m grateful to my friend and colleague Candy Barone for bringing this challenge to my doorstep. There is learning in everything. Now on to the doing and then the leading.

Curious about the seven books? Here they are:

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

A book I read every year at least once – more if needed. It helps me remember who I am and what matters. As of this past year, the audio version (narrated by Jeremy Irons) is my favorite.

A More Beautiful Question – Warren Berger

The teachings in this book shifted my entire way of thinking about possibilities.

If: Trading Your If Only Regrets for God’s What If Possibilities – Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson first came to my attention as a spiritual mentor and guide with his book The Circle Maker. It shifted my faith walk into something more powerful than I had ever imagined it could be. His writings take up an entire shelf in my library.

Willpower Doesn’t Work – Benjamin Hardy

A new favorite this past year. I heard him speak at a writers’ conference and began reading his posts on Medium. Ben Hardy’s life focus is inspiring. His story is remarkable. His book was a game changer for me, particularly in my health practices.

Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done – Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff is why my own book – Adjusted Sails: What does this make possible? is finished. I’ve read a number of his books and participated in his coaching program. He is another favorite for audio. Jon does all of the narration himself. His natural humor and wit will have you laughing your way right to insights that will change you.

The Obstacle is the Way – Ryan Holiday

This is another multi-book author favorite. I started with him with this book and went on to Ego is the Enemy, Daily Stoic and Perennial Seller. He also does his own narration. Sometimes it seemed that there was a master class within each sentence. I’ve gained the most from his writings by listening with the printed book in hand while taking notes.

The Miracles in You – Mark Victor Hansen

All of these books have the capacity to change the reader. This one however marked the most significant change overall in my own life. I was able to spend time with Mark Victor Hansen and talk with him about this book and his thoughts on significance. I don’t know of a single day in my life that shifted my view of my work and influence in the world more than that day.

When was your last challenge? What did you learn along the way?

Jim Rohn taught that we should all aspire to be millionaires. Not for the money – but for the person we would have to become to achieve that challenge.  Well taught and well lived, Mr. Rohn. Message received!

Live today like you want tomorrow to be.  Live well.



Do you have your finish line in view?

Laughman_Oct 2015_Article 4_Finish line

Back on January 1st, as the calendar rolled over to 2018, I was reminded that time waits for no one. I’m sure you have experienced similar feelings. When we begin our year, we have such grand plans! We claim this year as OUR TIME and we are filled with nearly giddy excitement about all the accomplishments we will be celebrating in the coming months.

All too often though it doesn’t take long for the realities of life to bring us back “down to earth” and what we envisioned starts to fade.

We are now just over six months into 2018 and in many ways, it feels like January 1st again. Time seems to be increasing its velocity – or at least life does. So many things that are true in my life and work today were not even on the radar screen at the beginning of the year. Some goals lost focus and momentum, some new ones appeared, and some came to fruition.

The key remains keeping the finish line in view.

Here are some thoughts I shared in the first post of this year that I still find helpful (perhaps you will too!):

One crucial life lesson is that deciding what we want, even how to get it is only part of getting us to where we want to be.  To be successful there is another element required: Knowing why we are doing what we plan to do. Without that clear motivation– we will lack an essential element we need to sustain us through to success. And one thing that has proven true in every case I know is that when we don’t keep going, we stop going. Knowing why we are doing something is the glue that holds everything together.

But how does motivation work? How do you know it’s going to hold? While there are many illustrations, my experience has shown that it comes down to these 5 essential principals:

  1. Sometimes the work is hard. It’s really that simple. Sometimes the work is hard. And we need to be certain we can stick with it. Jim Rohn taught that when the promise is clear, the price is easy. When the price begins to get hard, the promise is what pulls us through.
  2. Sometimes the work takes time. The emotion of the moment when we committed to something can and will fade over time if we don’t bring it back, even if not at the same sensory level. I was recently reminded that there is very little that is action dependent that does not require some constancy, even daily re-commitment to that action. Whether it’s our health, money, work or relationships. Our motivation (why) is what creates the power we need to keep making the commitment over time.
  3. Sometimes the work needs to change. This is an important one to think about. Sometimes the method we choose to do something doesn’t bring us the result we wanted. That’s not failure. That’s experience. Without knowing why we were doing it in the first place, we don’t have the ultimate creative pool to work from for finding our next strategy and getting it in place. The why keeps us focused in the RIGHT direction, even if we change the vehicle we’re riding to reach the destination.
  4. Sometimes the work requires help. When we are clear about why we are doing something our enthusiasm and passion are evident and infectious. Others will not only respond to requests for help – they will volunteer! There is nothing more binding and bonding than a shared desire to transform something for good. Even if they don’t know, like and trust you yet, if your why is clear and they can align to that, it can actually be the catalyst for the best relationships.
  5. Sometimes the work requires a choice. This point goes beyond the first one where we talked about work being hard at times. This is about sacrifice. This is about choice. If you do THIS (something that honors your why) then you cannot do THAT (something else you really want to do!). It’s called opportunity cost. The promise being clear is still part of the rationale on this but it goes deeper because you are making a conscious choice to not only have something, but also to give something up. If the value equation isn’t clear, those choices can get very difficult.

Having the right motivation makes a difference in getting started but it makes all the difference for staying started. And one thing is certain: We can and will have more than one start along the way.

How to put this to work? Choose one area of your life (health, finances, work, relationships, community) where in the past you have struggled staying on track with your goal and action settings. Go through a series of questions focused on the word why to get to your core reason for what you are doing. That is the promise. Don’t take your first response. Why? Because chances are fairly high that it is not your real reason. Don’t be surprised if it takes you a number of times to get to your true motivator. In the words of Pat Riley, “A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.”

You’ll know you are there when you can take that reason and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is this reason strong enough to keep me going when it’s hard?
  2. Is this reason strong enough to keep me going when this takes a long time?
  3. Is this reason strong enough to challenge me to always find a way?
  4. Is this reason strong enough to allow others to see the value in the work?
  5. Is this reason strong enough to support the right choices along the way, even when it means a sacrifice?

When you get to five yeses – you are there! More importantly, you know you’re going to be able to begin and experience the journey to go to your desired place of achievement with joy and ease.

Live today like you want tomorrow to be. Live well!

Windows of Opportunity: Are you grabbing them?

It’s a familiar scene whether we have experienced it personally or just within a movie or television drama. We are told that the patient’s odds for recovery aren’t really known. The next 24 hours will tell the story.

This precipice moment is also familiar in the news. It has been proven over and over that the odds of solving a crime are largely influenced by what happens in the first 48 hours following its commission.

In other words, it is the critical shadow hours after the crisis that are most pivotal to the rest of the story.

Even when what happens to us is far less dramatic than these examples, the same principle applies.

What we do and how we respond immediately following disruptive events does indeed write the rest of the story.

There can be many endings. It is up to us to choose.

What is your follow-up plan for the challenges that will appear?

Here are six thoughts to consider:

F – Faith vs. Fear

What core belief is most vulnerable as a result of what has or is happening? Where do you need to practice faith? This is where trust becomes such a fundamental element as an anecdote to fear. What steps do you need to take in order to handle the war of emotions and remain focused?

O – Opportunity vs. Obstacle

What opportunities are created because of what you are experiencing? What can you do now you could not do before? How can you step back and see the experience from a perspective of possibility? It’s noteworthy that the Chinese symbol for crisis is composed of two characters representing both danger and opportunity. Which will you allow yourself to see?

L – Learning the Lessons

Whatever happens to us, within those experiences is a landscape rich with life lessons. We can and must learn more about ourselves and the world around us. Simply asking ourselves what the lessons are in what is happening allows us to focus on purpose and possibility. It will fundamentally transform the situation into something that brings value vs. obstructing it.

L – Leveraging to Lead

There is very little, if anything that truly happens only to one person. That means that the value we realize is never solely isolated to our own experience. There is a direct or indirect impact to others in the immediate frame and in the future. How we leverage our own experiences in leading and serving others is a key factor in shifting our energy from victim to victor.

O – Options, Options, Options

There are always choices. Even without a crisis we know that. But with the crisis comes an unshackling; a willingness to consider and see options we might not otherwise even consider. It strips us of judgment and any rigidness in our response. This is, in and of itself a gift. This goes beyond just simple opportunity because it goes to the heart of not just what we can do but all of the many ways we can do it. Our brains are stimulated to see past the surface and compel our creative juices to flow.

W – What’s Next?

Nothing re-centers us more readily than a commitment to begin anew. Instead of focusing on what happened, focus on what is next. Taking into account our faith in the possibilities and opportunities, the lessons learned and what that means in terms of serving others and all of the options that are available to us, our energy can fully shift to a forward oriented perspective.

What follows the crisis? Windows of opportunity that we can throw fully open and leap through without fear. But just like our fictional patient or criminal case, that window of opportunity will not remain open forever. It will close. Choose faith that the purpose always has the potential of good. Choose the freedom that comes with knowing it is within our power to fully influence and generate that good.

Live today like you want tomorrow to be.

Live well.

Are your goals IDEAL? It’s a good time to check them out!

It seems just a moment ago, we were ushering in the new year and yet here we are, almost at the end of the first month of this trip around the sun.

Statistics tell us that this is the time when we are most at risk of losing our momentum for the determination and drive we embraced as the calendar page turned.

Life has already started to challenge us.

My focus this year is around investment. And I can personally attest to the fact that resistance has already appeared. But I can also sense and see where for me, this time I’ll be defying those odds (don’t you love when that happens?) and my resilience is showing resistance the door.

I’ve been giving thought to what creates our ability to sustain our pursuit of our dreams beyond the blush of making them.

As I was listening to a speaker this past weekend talk about real estate investments I began to see a universal application to some principals he was sharing. The segment was on how to know when you had found an ideal property for investment. While the specific details are different, the concept of testing your choice before the commitment of investment was directly on point.

There are so many things we can do. We have so many choices in terms of where we want to grow. How do we know that the goals we’ve chosen will in fact stand the test of time?

Using the word IDEAL as our guide, here are some thoughts to consider:


When we know what the results of our efforts will be, they have a higher probability to be sustainable. As Jim Rohn taught: “When the promise is clear, the price is easy.”  We have to start with the promise.


The plan to achieve needs to be flexible but not vague. This is also vital to long-term success. What steps are we taking, in what time frame and how are we going to track progress?


When you think about the impact and effort, how do you feel? What energy is produced? High? Low? Excitement? Dread? Everything in our life either creates or consumes energy. The ideal goal will do both but not be in equal proportions. It will be producing more positive energy than it expends. If thinking about your goal does not energize you, it’s in jeopardy.


This could be the place where we are most vulnerable. When we set a goal that isn’t in alignment with the rest of our life it can become a point of contention, even conflict with other priorities. When we begin by creating alignment for the goal, we are supporting its ultimate success. We are making room for it from the onset. Sometimes this is not just alignment for our own life but also alignment with others in our core circles.


While this is in the final spot, it could be considered the secret sauce of the whole effort. What do you have you can leverage and integrate into this new work? How will you be able to leverage the results of this goal for future work? What opportunities are being created before, during and after success? It is the bridge between now and next.

Our investments must be setup for success from the start.

Let’s recap: The IDEAL goal will have a championed impact, be exquisitely defined, bring optimized energy, support alignment in our life and create opportunities to leverage resources we have now and produce an outcome we can leverage for everything to follow.

I believe It’s a good check-up for where we’re focused. What about you? How do your goals fare? Are they IDEAL for this time and place in your life?

Live today like you want tomorrow to be. Live well!


Resilience: My friend fear..

What Are You Afraid Of?Recently I experienced a situation where fear was an unexpected partner in the dance. Not in an obvious way, but definitely present. In fact, I doubt that anyone involved (including me) recognized at the onset that fear was part of the equation.

I was reminded in that situation that we cannot change what we cannot see. And we won’t see what we are afraid to see. That means that before we can fully experience resiliency in our lives, we must be able to move past fear.

There it is – FEAR. Regardless of how we define success, before we can fully achieve and sustain it we must develop a healthy relationship with fear. Wisdom teaches us that fear can be a positive energy, a partner for change.  But before that can happen, we need to engage fear as our ally.

The first step is to recognize that all of us experience fear. Let’s get some clarity about the many faces and flavors of fear. As I was researching this I found at least 45 synonyms for the word fear from one search. 45! That’s quite a few flavors. And when you move on to all of the additional terms and phrases, the list is literally endless. That tells us something. We get to choose some things about fear in any given situation. We get to put a specific name to our fear. Once we do that, it becomes easier to see it within a context that will allow us to counter and/or leverage it.

The second step is remembering that fear is a basic human emotion. We are born with fear as a primal response in recognition of danger and for self-preservation. Fear is designed in its basic form to serve us. Over time though, we can allow fear to become the danger itself and to be self-limiting.  We need to remember that fear is not an absolute predictor; fear is just an alert mechanism that tells us we need to look at something more carefully before making our choice. Going back to our first point, remember that in this context, fear does not have to remain a reflexive response. Fear can create choices in how we respond. As with any choice, once we recognize we are in a decision moment we know by default we have the power to make a different choice.

But still, claiming fear as an ally can be daunting. After all, it is an incredibly powerful emotion. It can distort our vision, perception and ability to act. In some cases, the fear is clearly invalid and we are able to just choose another response. But in most cases, we will need to engage with our fear and allow it to guide us back to our personal power. That is done using the right questions.

For example, if you are timid (afraid!) in certain situations it most likely won’t be as simple as “I will choose confidence over being timid”.  Most likely, there is an underlying reason you are timid. The key will be to ask yourself what steps you need to take to develop confidence. Instead of focusing on the fear (being timid), focus on the alternative (confidence). First you will have to identify where you lack confidence. You will be able to look at what kinds of situations bring out that timidity and determine why and develop those skills to remove the fear. With that, fear becomes your ally. It lights the way for you to see where you lack confidence so you can take productive measures to restore it. You can then thank your fear for its service and send it on its way!

What about some of the more ambiguous forms of fear such as unease? What is it about this situation creating unease for me? Are those things true? If so, are there steps I can take to be at ease? If so, what are they?  Take those steps, thank your fear (unease) for its service and send it on its way! If you cannot define steps that will help you feel at ease, recognize your unease as a “do not enter” warning”, thank your fear (unease) for its service and send it on its way!

This is a life skill that can serve us in so many situations. Just remember that skill grows from use over time, not time alone. Put this into practice!

When we embrace fear for what it is meant to be – an alert to potential danger – we can leverage it to change outcomes and set ourselves up more effectively for success.

Live today like you want tomorrow to be. Live well!


Do you struggle with resilience? 3 warning signs to consider

ResilienceIt’s easy to say that we are resilient. It’s much more challenging to live resiliently. It is one of the most important skills we need to develop. But all too often we wait until we need it to determine if we’ve got it. The reality is that it doesn’t work that way.

Like any skill, it has to be developed over time and begins with our mindset. How we perceive our world will determine how we interact with it.

That is the core essence of true resilience. We stop responding to our world and start interacting with it. We put the energy of what is happening around us to work. We harness that energy and create new opportunities. It is what I have come to think of as moving from powerless effort (responding) to effortless power (resilience).

Recently I have been part of some discussions around resilience and how we develop it. The initial questions focused on how we could determine if it is a skill we have honed or not. After all, it’s not something you can always measure or see until after it has been employed. From those conversations, we determined that there are some warning signs that may be indicators that we need to strengthen that muscle. Here are the top three:

#1 – You have a higher commitment to the plan than you do to the result.

It can be dangerous to become overly attached to the road map. After all, roads close and things change. But the end goal is still the end goal. Adjusting the sails is far better than ignoring that the course needs correction.

#2 – You have a driving need to understand the cause of something in order to assign blame, even (or especially) if it’s to yourself.

Things happen. The cause is most likely irrelevant once it happens. The true forward course is not assigning responsibility for why it happened but rather taking responsibility for what to do from there. What does this make possible? Take responsibility for that and it shifts to opportunity thinking.

#3 – Your goal list is continuously littered with casualties that don’t seem to ever cross the finish line.

When we find a trend line in something, it means there is a systemic issue causing a particular result. When the trend we see is unfinished work or unrealized goals, it usually means that we are not able to see our way through disruptions, delays or even simple distractions. By analyzing the points where we falter, we can see where we need to shore up our resiliency muscle and put intelligent creativity to work.

When we are committed to seeing the possibilities around us we naturally begin to develop our personal resiliency. Our life lens is trained to see opportunities for growing and giving in every situation. In a world where we are faced every day with uncertainty, we can thrive knowing that what is uncertain leaves room for infinite creativity.

What if the glass half empty is also half full? What if it’s both and ready for more?

Live today like you want tomorrow to be. Live well.