Walking the Heart Path

If life is a journey, I believe each of us must honor the sacred integrity of our own path. We must learn to lead from within, aligning our outer choices with our inner values, callings, and convictions.

But how exactly?

How, for example, do we discern and distinguish our own path from others’? How do we hear our own voice above the noise and courageously honor our own callings in the face of resistance from others?

Sometimes we lack a sense of vision, purpose or the ability to hear our calls. Perhaps we have a limited degree of self-awareness, and in the absence of self-knowledge and respect, look to the external to define our sense of worth. Sometimes our paths are laid out Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 9.26.57 AMbefore us by others, and we blindly follow what we are often unable or afraid to discover for ourselves. Perhaps we internally judge ourselves as unworthy or incapable of making a different choice, choosing powerlessness over self-empowerment. We allow fear to overshadow the gift of authenticity and allow the opinions of others to trample our own. Sometimes, we may find ourselves in a different role — judging others, perhaps harshly so, as if our subconscious’ way of defending the fragility of our own choices and ego.

In recent weeks, I’ve been inspired by those whose path have crossed my own; those who are not only daring to dream, but who have challenged themselves to leave the security of convention, convenience, and/or comfort to follow their sense of calling and conviction for their lives. While the stories differ in detail, what they share in common is a sense of daring and the courage to try, regardless of whether their decision to change was by choice or chance. What they share is the belief that when vision and effort are combined with core values and a deep-centered sense of faith and possibility, baby steps taken can begin to propel them toward their dreams and to live a life of purpose.

I’ve also encountered others who have shared their struggle to find their authentic voice and walk their true path, finding comfort instead in the status quo out of fear of what might happen if they dared to make a change. Not surprisingly, instead of projecting a sense of inner peace with their decision, energetically, they project a sense of dis-ease at best, and sometimes even outright anger as their internal discontent morphs into judgment and criticism of others.

Wherever we find ourselves on the continuum of life, if we are to honor and embrace our authentic voice and the essence of all that we have to offer, we must learn to silence the critics, whether our own or others. To realize our leadership potential, we must also own our truths and find the courage to live our convictions however and wherever we choose to live out our leadership in our individual journeys.

Exercising the courage to live in integrity with who you authentically are and to live out your callings and convictions is at the essence of heart-aligned living. In doing so, we not only find our true heart path but help pave a path forward for others, too.

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Yesterday marked the official launch of my new book, Walking the Heart Path: Bite-Sized Bits of Wisdom on Living & Leading from the Inside Out. It was also a day recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day.

As a way of giving back and helping pave a path forward for others, $1 of every book purchased will be donated to the Foundation for Girls. Focused on nurturing the leader in every girl, this Charlotte, NC-based 501(c)3 providing mentoring, financial literacy, STEM, and other skills-based training to at-risk girls in Charlotte. 

Creative Visualization

15541549_10154808096969655_9204891255238104112_nRecently I was feeling a bit silly and rather serious at the same time. Practicing a little creative visualization, I sheepishly snuck an advance reader copy of my upcoming book, Walking the Heart Path, into my local Barnes & Noble, found a few favorite authors’ books for companions, placed my own on the shelf, took out my camera, and began to snap away. No, I didn’t leave it there, but I did pause for just long enough to breathe in the moment and visualize possible outcomes . . . specifically, to envision and consider what success might look like for me.

15589980_10154808096974655_5275041062588752987_nCrazy? Perhaps; Will it work? Possibly; Has it worked in the past? Absolutely. Many times, in fact.

Too early to know for sure, what I do know is this:

We become what we imagine and believe is possible. We should therefore learn to dream with our hearts wide open. 

No, I’m not suggesting that everything is possible. If you are an active asthmatic, for example, the U.S. Air Force is not going to let you pilot their planes. Some rules  (including the laws of physics) are, at least in this present moment, what they are.

But I believe in miracles. I believe in dreaming big, working hard, and acknowledging that while not everything is within our control, the possibilities for our lives do in fact expand or diminish in proportion to our courage and commitment to our vision AND our willingness to make sacrifices and do the hard work required along the way. I believe in the power of Faith, prayer, and honest intention, too — which collectively calls us to both dare to dream and be willing to simultaneously surrender to unknown outcomes.

Here’s where it gets tricky.

If we’re not careful, fear (whether of failure or success) and its close cousin, pride, will show up at our party, often unannounced. Invited or not, letting them roam freely in our minds is the sure fastest way to sabotage our dreams. Left unattended, they will plant seeds of doubt and/or create a lengthy list of reasons why we deserve something less than we imagine is possible (or perhaps have yet to imagine), though trying to smother, silence, and bind them only fuels their fire and determination to squash our spirit.

So what is the answer?

As Elizabeth Gilbert suggests in her book, Big Magic, make friends with fear (and feed your pride some humble pie while you’re at it). Acknowledge fear’s presence, but while you’re at it, step up your Faith, paint the picture you want to see, and learn to lean into love.

That’s where the real magic resides.

I’m curious to know and ask…

Do you find it easy to dream or do you find yourself holding back? What are the biggest obstacles that keep you from pursuing (and therefore realizing) your dreams? Have you ever painted a picture in your mind and/or created a physical visual of your desired outcome? What was the result? How does creating a vision for your life (or project) help move you closer to realizing your dreams?

p.s. Want to read a great book on daring to dream? Pick up a copy of Whitney Johnson’s book, Dare, Dream, Do, and while your at it, a copy of her latest book, too — Disrupt Yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

 

 

On Dreams & Miracles…

The moment we quit dreaming is the moment we quit manifesting miracles in our own life, for when we have no intentional aim, we most assuredly will get lost in the wilderness of life.

I’m curious to know…

Do you take time out to dream on a regular basis? Do you have an intentional aim and larger vision for your own life? Allowing space for miracles and the larger hand that is at play in our lives, do you life your life by design or default? What steps can you take today to help you manifest a miracle? What role does Faith play in that process?

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Do You Have Enough?

If character is at the heart of effective leadership, do you have enough of what it takes to lead yourself and others — with courage, discipline, commitment, fortitude, integrity, humility, accountability, insight, resiliency and faith?

Do You Have Enough?

 

True Leadership

True leadership is inclusive by nature, building bridges rather than walls through the gift of authentic connection.

Rooted in respect, it holds space to acknowledge difference, while remaining aligned to its core vision and values.

Born of integrity, it is courageous in thought, word and deed, willing to take risks and advocate for what is right over what is popular; for what is true over the convenient.

Purposeful in nature, it is not defined by its title, but by its ability to influence positive change.

Collaborative and humble, the best leadership serves, enables and empowers others to grow into their best selves, seeking not to glorify itself, but to acknowledge and exalt the good of others along the way.

Winning is…

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Winning

The Best of Intentions

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

It’s that time of year again — the time when we reflectively pause on the year past in anticipation of the year to come.

If you’re like many people, every January you start the year with the best of intentions. Intentions to progress beyond the status quo; to dream, grow, stretch, and achieve. Perhaps you intend to lose weight, get in shape, or finally write that book. Maybe your intention is to find love or to become more loving towards others. In our current economy, past intentions of finding your dream job may have shifted to the simplified version of finding a job.

Beyond simply another goal-setting exercise, resolutions enable us to (re)frame, (re)direct, and resolve to move us closer to our dreams. Energetically, setting an intention creates movement, shifting our mindset from the complacent comfort of the familiar to the challenge of new growth.

But sometimes even the best of intentions can fall by the wayside. Perhaps midstream our priorities shift, giving way to new pathways that call us in a different direction. Perhaps there is more weed pulling or soil tilling to do before the garden of our life is ready for new plantings. Sometimes our intentions are tied to people and events outside of our control, and what starts off as the best of intentions, ultimately gives way to disappointment and frustration when things don’t go our way.

So what are we to do? How do we navigate ever-changing tides or commit to goals that may ultimately fall outside of our control? What steps can we take to reach the places we are trying to go?

In an interview for the Global Girls Project on the power of vision in leadership and empowerment, Jesse Stoner, co-author with Ken Blanchard of the international bestseller, Full Steam Ahead: Unleashing the Power of Vision in Your Life, suggests “digging down beneath intentions to what’s fundamentally connected to who you are, because in the end, that’s all you really have any control over.” She suggests tuning into your core values and purpose as the means for achieving the larger vision for your life.

Need to lose weight or get in shape? Want to write that book? Looking for love or the perfect job? Consider the underlying values you are trying to achieve. Perhaps your resolution for weight loss and fitness is tied to a core value of health and wellness, or your desire to write a book is aligned with creative expression. A desire for relationship reflects our basic human need to love and be loved, while the notion of a ‘dream’ job is usually tied to a larger sense of purpose in our lives.

When we dig deeper; when we consider the underlying ‘why’ behind our resolutions, it enables and empowers us to move from a mindset of having the best of intentions to pursuing a larger vision for our lives.

I’m curious…

Do you set New Year’s resolutions, and if so, have you ever considered the underlying values driving your individual goals? How many of your resolutions are defined by events, people and/or circumstances outside of your control? Do your resolutions reflect a larger vision for your life? What pro-active steps can you take to shift from merely setting an intention to actualizing your dreams?