Success Skills

Maintaining Focus in the Face of Chaos – 1st Key

The Holiday Season can be so joyfully chaotic, can’t it?  Parties and travel and family (with all the baggage that goes with that!).  For many performers there are also holiday gigs and holiday gift promotions to promote on top of that.  It can all be so overwhelming.  So many things to do, so many demands on your time.

Time management and project management systems are critical to your success at all times and I cover them elsewhere in the blog.  Very often, when faced with unusually busy times, all of our time management skills fly out the window. So, this series of 5 blog posts will answer the question – How do I maintain my focus and my sanity in the face of chaos?

5 Keys to Manage Chaos

  1. Read more

Embrace Your Unique Voice as an Artist

This is primarily directed to artists, but really, it applies to all of us.  Being a unique voice in a world that values sameness can be a rough row to hoe.  As children, we’re taught, encouraged, sometimes even bludgeoned and beaten into sameness.  Don’t be too loud.  Don’t show how smart you are.  Don’t blow your own horn.  Don’t stick out (either for good or ill).

These are the messages that we get from our parents, our siblings, our teachers and our peers.  And from a herd mentality, it makes a lot of sense, on an evolutionary scale.  The straggler gets eaten, right?  And if you don’t blend into your environment, you’re not only a danger to yourself, but you can attract danger to your tribe, right?  But we don’t live in those times anymore, and yet, we still live by those rules as a society.  Or at least some of us do.

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
e.e. cummings, 1955

The most successful people, not just in the arts, but in all areas of life, are the ones who willingly stand out.  The ones who risk being chastised or not loved. The ones who are willing to fall face down into the mud in abject failure in order to be true to themselves.  They STAND OUT.

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
Dr. Seuss

As an artist in a highly competitive environment, expressing your unique voice is critical to your success both artistically and entrepreneurially.

But what does that mean, really?  In my opinion, it doesn’t mean figuring out what will sell, what record companies want, who you need to twist yourself into “make it.”

What it really means is to unveil your true voice, that voice which is innately, uniquely, brilliantly yours.   Choose what it is you want to express and filter that content through your unique instrument, your mind, your heart, your spirit.

It’s been said that there are no new ideas.  And on one level that may be true.  What makes your expression of an idea unique is that your idea is filtered through that which is uniquely you.  And there’s no one else quite like you in the world.

At bottom every man knows well enough that he is a unique being, only once on this earth; and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is, ever be put together a second time.
Friedrich Nietzsche

The fact that we are all part of the human experience makes us able to find common ground and connect with each other. What we do with our human experience, how we experience it, is unique to ourselves and allows us to be unique in how we express creatively. The leap of faith is to trust that the right people, the right audience, the right opportunities will show up and really see you and appreciate and connect with your unique creative expression.

So, how do you embrace your unique voice and use it as an Artist Entrepreneur?

  1. Learn, practice and master the skills necessary to express your unique self
  2. Polish your courage, your temerity and take the leap into full expression
  3. Use all of the skills and tools available to you to package your expression in a way that your target audience really wants it
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 over and over with consistency, constantly learning, growing and expanding your skills and getting the help and support you need to fully embody each step to the best of your unique combination of talent, ability and skill.

How are you embracing and expressing your unique voice and what are your biggest challenges with it?

Don’t be a Needy Artist

Fair warning – this is a rant.

Over the past few years, since I started doing the Ask Coach Debra Calls and being more active on Twitter and Facebook, I’ve had many encounters that go something like this:

Needy Artist – How do I get an Agent/Manager/ Gallery Rep (for visual artists), etc.?

Me – Why do you want one?

Needy Artist – Well, I need someone to help me with my career!

Me – Can you make a living from 10-20% of what you are currently earning?

Needy Artist – What? NO! Why?

Me – Well, why would an Agent/Manager/Rep take you on?  If they can’t make a living representing you?

Needy Artist – But I expect them to build my career for me, so they can then make a living!

In other words – this person wants someone else to save them.  They want the easy way out, the short-cut.  They want someone else to build their career for them.  This makes me crazy!!!!

Why would anyone do that?  Why would anyone take on an artist who is too lazy, too self-involved, to entitled to take responsibility for their own career?  Short answer?  They wouldn’t.  But these folks want me to go to my contacts and hook them up.  Why would I do that?

Does this sound familiar?  Have you wanted someone, some white knight on a great steed, to come into your life and take over the hard, hard work of building your career, so you don’t have to?  Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

But be careful what you wish for – I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of artists losing their life’s savings because they abdicated responsibility for the career, their money, their success to someone else.  Someone who promised to do all the hard, boring, confronting, uncomfortable work of managing their career.  And they did that, only to abscond with the money they created for the artist, when that artist had relaxed into the relationship and stopped paying attention.

Of course that doesn’t happen to everyone and it’s not to say that every manager or rep is unsavory or dishonest.  But when faced with both temptation and a lack of oversight even the most honorable may give in.

So if this blog post hits home and you see yourself in that “Needy Artist”, what should you do?  You need to learn how to create your own career and take 100% responsibility for your results.  Because even when you get to the point that it is time to work with an agent or manager, you need to know enough about what they do, so you can hold them accountable and give them guidance about what kind of career you want.

One of my favorite blog posts recently is this one from Dean Ogden on ScoreCastOnline – where he talks about how to know if you are ready for success in the music industry.  I’d use it as an assessment tool.  Some of the items are business and craft skills and some are internal skills and emotional intelligence.

And come to me to learn those skills and implement them to create a successful business.  But don’t expect me to do it for you.  That’s not my job.  It’s not the Agent or Manager’s job either.

How to Maintain Consistent Growth and Development

Have you ever pushed yourself out of your comfort zone?  You know, created something really different, taken a risk that felt scary and hard, pushed through a tough learning curve, talked to someone who totally intimidated you?

And after that push – did you feel the almost irresistible urge to pull back to your safety zone – even if your push out was really successful?  You know the two steps forward and one step back?  Why do we feel the need for that one step back?

I call it:

The Stretch Reflex

In physiology, the stretch reflex (also called the myotatic reflex) occurs when you stretch a muscle to the point of pain and hold it for longer than about 10 seconds.  The muscle contracts against the stretch.  This contraction is an autonomic (involuntary) reaction which attempts to resist the change in muscle length by causing the stretched muscle to contract. The more sudden the change in muscle length, the stronger the muscle contractions against the stretch will be. This basic function of the muscle spindle helps to maintain muscle tone and to protect the body from injury.

In physical therapy, I learned that if you hold the stretch and breath through the muscle’s desire to contract, consciously relaxing that muscle, the contraction will stop and you will actually be able to go even deeper into the stretch.  The trick is not to give in to that contraction, and just breathe while maintaining your position and consciously relaxing the muscle.

I believe that in behavior we also have an autonomic (involuntary) stretch reflex.  When you’ve pushed yourself beyond your comfort zone, your unconscious wants you to contract in order to protect yourself from being hurt.  That contraction could look like getting sick, like wanting to curl up in bed for several days or even just procrastinating about getting back to a normal schedule after a big push.

But if we give in to that contraction, then growth (both personal and professional) becomes sporadic and difficult to maintain.  So, how do we maintain that stretch through the contraction so that we can increase and expand our comfort zone?

Awareness – Always the First Step

One of the key tools in any growth is awareness.  If you’re not aware that you’re in the middle of a stretch reflex, you will likely surrender to it and allow it to pull you back into your comfort zone.

You also need to use your awareness to differentiate between the stretch reflex and your need to rest after a big energetic push.   I’m talking about consistent growth, NOT constant growth.  You need to pace your energy so that you are not constantly pushing yourself to and beyond your limits.

“Balancing stress and recovery is critical not just in competitive sports, but also in managing energy in all facets of our lives.  When we expand energy, we draw down our reservoir.  When we recover energy, we fill it back up.  Too much energy expenditure without sufficient recovery eventually leads to burnout and breakdown.  (Overuse it and lose it.)  Too much recovery without sufficient stress leads to atrophy and weakness.  (Use it or lose it.)”
The Power of Full Engagement

In the last month, I spent about 3 weeks putting in 11 hour days to complete the website and Membership revamp before leaving for SXSW and then 11 days of conference intensity in Austin.

When I returned, I needed to take several days to recuperate.  That’s not the stretch reflex.  That’s simply refilling my reservoir.  But once I recovered, I could feel the urge to procrastinate rather than getting back to a productive schedule.

No coincidence that I had already planned on this topic for my next newsletter!

So use the power of your awareness to identify if what you’re experiencing is recuperation or the stretch reflex.  If you find yourself pulling inward, ask yourself:

Is this fatigue or fear?

If it’s fatigue – rest!  If it’s fear – what are you afraid of?  Sometimes our fear kicks in AFTER we’ve taken a risk.  So, if you can name the fear and embrace and celebrate the risk – even if it led to something other than success – then you will be able to breathe through the urge pull inward.

And once you’ve identified that what you’re experiencing is a stretch reflex; don’t try to push yourself deeper into the stretch.  Just breathe and maintain the level you’re at.  The ability to go further out of your comfort zone requires you to first become comfortable at this level of exposure.  So, breathe and maintain.

And when this becomes comfortable and easy – then stretch out further.

Goals and Success

We’re three weeks into the New Year. At the end of last year, I moved across country to New Jersey. Getting settled in has been slowed by massive snow storms (we got 35″ in one night!) and bitter cold. But I finally feel like I’m moving forward with my year.

How about you? Did you make resolutions? Set new goals? And how are you doing with them?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been blogging about my end of year and beginning of New Year process. I usually do this process in the week between Christmas and New Year’s, but I am running a few weeks behind, due to the move. (…change is good… change is good… change is good – sigh)

In this article, I want to address one piece of the process that I’m going into in more depth in the blog – Goals. What are they? Why do you need them? And how do you go about setting ones that make a difference in the real world. Warning – this is a long one.

In my practice I come across a lot of artists with big dreams.  Whether it’s a Grammy Award Winning music career, winning an Oscar or getting a show at MOMA, we dream of a level of success, recognition and income for our creative efforts.  It’s human nature to dream of success, however you define it.

Where a lot of artists (and other people) go wrong in their pursuit of those dreams, they never make the transition from dream/fantasy to vision/goals.  If you think of your success with fantasy language:

Wouldn’t it be nice?  That could be awesome?  I’d love to have that!

Then you are still living in the world of dreams and fantasies.  And there’s nothing wrong with that as an exercise.  But if you intend to create the life of your dreams, you must translate those dreams into real world, measurable, specific and, most importantly, actionable goals.

I’m a big believer in the Law of Attraction – but Attraction without Action is just Attr

And it’s very hard to take action as long as you’re thinking in “Wouldn’t it be nice” terms.

What is a Goal?

In my Artists Marketing & Business Academy Toolbox TeleclassGoals that Get Results – I teach that goals must meet the following criteria:

  • A goal is a having/being not a doing.
  • A goal is a dream with a deadline – put a date on it!
  • A goal must be visionary and inspiring
  • A goal must be specific and measurable – how will you know when you’ve accomplished it?
  • A goal must be positively focused – leave the problem out of it!
  • A goal must be achievable within the time frame you’ve set.
  • A goal is a having/being not a doing.

Let’s look at these one at a time.

A goal is a having/being not a doing

Let’s say for the purposes of this discussion that you dream of owning a red corvette.  If you state the goal: I want a red corvette, then your goal is to be wanting.  If you state the goal: I will have a red corvette, then your realization of your goal will always rest somewhere in the future.  I recommend in the setting of your goal, that you leave out the subject and verb altogether.  The goal becomes:

A red corvette

Simple, clear, powerful.

Let’s take another example, one that’s common for people – dropping a few pounds.  So you make a goal: To work out 3 times a week.  But that’s not a goal – there’s no having or being there – it’s a doing.  It’s a strategy for accomplishing something, not the accomplishment itself.  A goal isn’t about how you’re going to get there – it’s about defining where there is.

So, ask yourself, “If I work out 3 times a week for the next 3 months, what will I have or be?”  And that will get you to your goal.

A goal is a dream with a deadline – put a date on it!

Without a date of completion – you’re living in LA LA fantasy land.  Setting a date can be confronting, it requires you to make a commitment.  It requires you to take a leap of faith.  Because you may not KNOW how long a goal will take to achieve, right?

Look, take the leap of faith.  Set the date.  If, once you get into the middle of working on the goal you realize, this is a longer goal, then change the date.

I also recommend breaking longer goals (anything more than 6 months out) into smaller milepost goals, preferably in 3-4 month intervals.  This is not an action plan (remember goals are not the HOW, but the WHAT/WHERE).

Ask yourself, “Where do I need to be in 3 months in order to know I’m on track for this goal?”

A goal must be visionary and inspiring

Look, if you aren’t inspired by the goal, you won’t do the work.  It’s that simple.  And if the long term consequences of this short term goal will take you somewhere you don’t want to go, you also won’t do the work.

In other words – don’t pursue someone else’s idea of success, pursue your own vision of success.  And create goals that align with your vision.

And make the goals juicy, exciting, and visceral.  Ask yourself, “What will I see, hear, feel, taste and smell when this goal is realized?”

A goal must be specific and measurable – how will you know when you’ve accomplished it?

If you go into a restaurant looking for a steak dinner and order “Cow”, you may or may not get the meal you want.  But if you order prime rib, medium rare with spring potatoes and broccoli rabe sautéed in garlic, it is much more likely that you will receive the outcome you desire.

It’s not enough to say, “I want to make a lot of money.”  How much is a lot?  What a lot is to a refugee in the Sudan is a very different amount than what a lot is to Donald Trump.  What, specifically, do you want?

A goal must be positively focused – leave the problem out of it!

When you are writing your goal, you are writing your future.  You are creating what you will manifest.  If you make a goal about the solution to a problem, you are actively creating that problem in the future.  If you make a goal, “Completely clear of debt.”  Then you are still bringing debt into the future.  Trust me, that’s just the way this stuff works.

Ask yourself, “What will I have/be when this problem no longer exists?”

A goal must be achievable within the time frame you’ve set.

I don’t like the word, “realistic”.  It has too many connotations of limitedness and scarcity.  But you must believe that you can achieve the goal you’ve set within the time frame you’ve set it.  If you don’t believe you can, you won’t do what you need to do to achieve it.  Human beings don’t act against their own beliefs.

So, make a goal you believe you can achieve.  The more you do that, the more you’ll find yourself believing you can achieve.  And you will find that you can begin to set and believe in larger goals.

Start with where you are and build from here.

2 Lessons from American Idol – Top 12

The format of American Idol requires artists to create cover versions of other people’s music. This is only slightly artificial as many independent artists perform songs written by someone else. And so, the ability to take a song written by someone else and make it your own is a critical skill for your success in the music industry.

And this is certainly true across the Arts & Entertainment industry. If you’re an actor, you’re going to be speaking words, not your own. If you’re writing, even if it’s fiction – your story is probably similar to a million other stories out there – so finding a way to make yours unique is a requirement. As a visual artist, your subject matter has likely been covered by a Master, so how do you make your treatment unique?

Lesson One: Focus on a Positive Intended Outcome in all of your efforts.

Getting back to American Idol, in last week’s episode, the contestants were covering the Rolling Stones. We saw some artists do renditions of songs that were pretty close to the Rolling Stone’s version and they were showing how well they could sing that song as written. And then there were a few artists who really changed the style and arrangement of the song – which seems to be what the judges ask for, week after week.

Some of those arrangements really worked – like Siobhan‘s version of Painted Black. And some of those arrangements really didn’t work – like Tim’s version of Under My Thumb. And I have a theory about why Tim’s version didn’t work. Tim said that he decided that he couldn’t do a Stone’s song justice. This is a negative assumption. He started out from a place of failure and he could only try to do something better. This assumption, I believe, colored his whole approach to the song. So, he tried to find a way to match his limitations.

Siobhan, on the other hand, looked at the song and explored a way to both serve where she wanted to grow as an artist and what would really serve the song. She wanted to get a bit darker and more dramatic and show off her vocal range and power. And so she picked a song that was dark to begin with and created an arrangement that really allowed her to explore the dramatic depths of the song and her own instrument.

So, the difference was that Siobhan focused on a positive intended outcome. And Tim focused on doing the best he could within an assumed failure and limitation. I wonder what would have happened if Tim had looked for a song he truly connected with and explored ways to arrange the song to suit his vocal instrument. I believe that’s what Aaron did incredibly well with Angie.

Lesson Two: Learn your instrument/craft, so you can make the most of your talent

In Simon’s critique of Aaron – he said that the song, “allowed you to stay within the limits of your voice.” Now that’s not the same as Tim’s self-imposed limitations. You need to know your instrument. If you’re playing a cello, you just aren’t going to be able to hit a high C – it’s not within the range of the instrument. Your voice is also an instrument, and understanding and being able to exploit the range and quality of your instrument will allow you to use your instrument to truly serve your art.

And that’s really the point –

  1. It’s important to start with a positively focused context.
  2. Look for a way to use your instrument to both serve you as an artist and serve the art and what you want to communicate with that art.

How are you assuming failure in your approach to your music career?  What would change if you assumed success?  How would that change your approach to your music/art?  How would that change your approach to your business?

No Failure – Only Feedback

Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a series of calls for the Artists Marketing & Business Academy based on Christopher Howard’s Assumptions for Empowered Leadership. For this edition of the Words to the Wise Newsletter, I’m focusing on Assumption #9:

“Only feedback – no failure; therefore utilize everything”

I’ll go much deeper into how to apply it to your life in this month’s Toolbox Teleclass: “How to Use Feedback and Criticism Constructively” for the Artists Marketing & Business Academy.

No Failure – Only Feedback

Failure* –

  1. The condition or fact of being insufficient or falling short
  2. The condition or fact of not achieving the desired end or ends

What is interesting to me about the above definitions is that they are stated as a fait accompli.  Done.  Finished.  But when I hear people describe themselves as failures I have to ask – are you done?  Are you finished?  Because if you’re not – you’re not yet a failure!  You’ve merely tried something in pursuit of your goal that didn’t work, or didn’t work as well as you’d hoped.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

So, instead of using this experience to define yourself (I am a failure) – what if this result is merely feedback?

Feedback* –

  1. A reaction or response to a particular process or activity.
  2. Evaluative information derived from such a reaction or response.

I love using these definitions for failure!  What if this negative outcome (previously defined as a failure) could be viewed as a reaction or response to a particular process or activity and you could derive evaluative information from this outcome?

Failure vs. Feedback

In my experience, when you define yourself as a failure – you stop.  When you define your experience as feedback, then this negative outcome becomes merely one step on your path to success.

So, for example, you went to an audition and didn’t get it; or you asked for a booking from a venue and were turned down; or you submitted a song to TAXI and got returned; or you tried out for American Idol and got slammed by Simon; or any other circumstance that ends in a “NO” response.  And you notice that you’re looking at these circumstances and saying to yourself – I’m a failure.

What if you looked at that experience and said instead – “This is interesting feedback.  Wonder how I can utilize this?  What can I learn?  How can I improve?  What do I try next?  Am I done testing this method – or should I test it some more?”

  • How would you feel from that perspective?
  • What steps would you take from that place?
  • How is that different from what you’re doing presently?

I look forward to hearing how this shifts things for you?

* Definitions from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

7 Lessons from American Idol – Top 16 Results

In the writing of this blog series – I will not be commenting on who stays and who is voted off, no matter how tempted I may be.  My purpose in writing this blog is to help you in your serious pursuit of success doing what you love.  While American Idol may feed into the confusion of success and fame (which don’t necessarily coincide), I believe that there is a lot here to be learned about what works and doesn’t work in the music industry.  And many of these principles can be extrapolated to apply to any industry both in the arts and outside of it.

Here are 7 lessons I pulled from Thursday night’s results show.  Many of these came in the form of advice about what contestants need to do or comments from the judges.  And one came from a contestant who’d been eliminated:

  1. Consistency
  2. Have fun
  3. Be unique
  4. Sing from your true experience
  5. Confidence
  6. Believe in yourself (not exactly the same as confidence, although they generally coincide)
  7. Use “losing” as an inspiration or a push to do more

What were your biggest lessons from this week in American Idol?

2 Lessons From American Idol – Top 8 Male Semifinalists

In Wednesday night’s American Idol there were two lessons that can help you be successful as a performing musician or artist.  When giving Alex Lambert feedback, Kara DioGuardi said, “The only thing standing in the way of you winning is you.”  She was specifically targeting Alex’s clear lack of confidence.  And while, his performance was getting better each time, it was not going to be enough for him to make it to the finals.

So, let’s talk about this confidence thing.  This is a common theme on American Idol, because most of the contestants have little or no performing experience and certainly no performing experience in front of an audience of this magnitude.  Most professional artists get to this level after long years of experience and their proficiency in performance is a skill that they build and develop over time.  How are you building your performance chops?

Simon Cowell told Alex to just believe in himself.  As if it’s that easy to choose to believe in yourself.  You know what – it is.  Because what you believe is your choice.  This is something I teach in my Transform Your Beliefs – The Key to Success class, that’s available for download from the Artist’s EDGE Membership.  You can change what you believe.  However, when working alone (and not with a coach), it can be very challenging to change what you believe.  But the easiest way to change what you believe is to change what you’re focusing on.  If all you’re focusing on is the thought, “Don’t let me fail.”  Or, “I’m not good enough for this.”  Then that’s what you’ll believe.

Want to believe in yourself?  Change what you’re focusing on: “I have a good voice.”  “My fans are voting for me and rooting for me.”  And then find evidence of that belief and focus on that.

And really, that’s all Simon was suggesting when he offered the stunning image of Randy in a bikini – having that image in your mind will make it harder to worry about anything, much less your performance.  It’s an old speaker’s trick, imagining your audience in their underwear.  And it works!  Though I’ve always preferred to imagine my audience having transformational experiences, personally.

Lesson One: Choose to believe in yourself and focus on the right stuff!

The second lesson I saw was in the nature of skill development of a different sort – vocal skill.  Now it is true, both on American Idol and in the vast world of the Music Business, that a great performer can, to some degree, overcome a lack of vocal ability – I mean look at Bruce Springsteen.  And in today’s Music Industry, the use of Auto-Tune in live and recorded performances has become almost an industry standard, particularly in the commercial or pop music world.  However, as Taylor Swift discovered, it doesn’t necessarily solve all the problems of a professional lacking in trained vocal skills.

On the other side of that fence, as we saw with Katie Stevens in the previous night’s performance, an incredible vocal skill absolutely does not make up for the lack of performance skills.  But one thing that vocal training can make up for – nerves.  One of the first things to go when dealing with nerves is breath.  And without breath, being able to maintain pitch, particularly over a sustained note, becomes nearly impossible.

But if you’ve trained your body, your diaphragm, your vocal chords, to breath and maintain your pitch, then when you are challenged by nerves or emotions, your muscle memory will enable you to maintain your pitch through your emotions.

So many artists today don’t want to get vocal training.  Because they have some idea about wanting to maintain a raw sound or they’re afraid that they’ll have to change their vocal style.  But that can’t be further from the truth.  What vocal training allows you to do is to be masterful in your sound.  To have tremendous control over the tone and emotional content of your vocals.  And even more importantly, training will help you to maintain your vocal health and keep you from losing your voice as well as keep you from developing vocal nodes and other chronic conditions that will stop you from singing at all.

Lesson Two: Develop Your Craft!

How are you training yourself as an artist?  Whatever your craft is, you are never done developing it.  Always be working on your craft.  Many young musicians think that if they train too much, they’ll somehow lose their raw freshness.  Guess what – the best way to lose is to not train!  The better you are, the more power and choice you have.  You can always choose to be raw – but it will be very hard to maintain if poor skills destroy your vocal chords.  Masters are developed, not born.  And you’ll be able to go much further on training and skill than on talent.

How are you developing your skills?

Leadership

I believe that Leadership, or the lack thereof, underlies many if not all of the challenges that we are experiencing in today’s world.  But what is Leadership?

Leadership – A 21st Century Concept

According to the dictionary, Leadership is the position or function of a leader.  (I hate when dictionaries define a word with the word itself, don’t you?)  The definition of a leader: a guiding or directing head, as of an army, movement, or political group.

And I think that is exactly the mistake we are making in our world.  Who am I to call myself a leader – I’m not a directing head of anything but my own life!

We are waiting for someone else to lead, someone else to take responsibility for our lives, someone else to judge what’s right or wrong, someone else to fix what’s wrong in the world.  While on the one hand, I think that having a centralized government is generally a good thing.  Our world is really too complex to work without that, I certainly don’t want to be dealing with paving that big pothole or providing electricity to the city!

On the other hand, I believe that giving over the responsibility for my own judgment, my own authority to someone who lives far away and over whom I have no influence is a mistake.

It fosters corruption.  And it gives me a convenient scapegoat for all that doesn’t work in my life.  It sets up an environment of shame and blame and empowers a victim mentality.  It creates a society that is OK with corporations that steal from the individual as long as the stockholders are making money; with a health care system that takes your money but doesn’t take care of your health; with waste and a pollution which may yet make our planet uninhabitable; with a government that undermines our human rights in the name of security.

All because we’ve given away our leadership.

On an individual level, we don’t learn to trust ourselves.  We are taught to trust the authorities in our lives over our own internal guidance from early infancy, whether it’s our parents, our teachers, our religious leaders or our peers.  This can create tremendous stress, self-esteem issues, and challenges with addiction and depression, because we feel helpless, a piece of flotsam in a vast sea of conflicting and violent currents.  And because we’ve forgotten how truly powerful each and every one of us is.

And it fosters an inability or unwillingness to take responsibility for our own actions, our own outcomes, even our own feelings.  But the truth is, taking ownership of our action and our outcomes, being responsible for our feelings – these are skills we can learn. And so I’ve created my mantra, in order to create myself as an authentic leader in each moment, in each day:

I have the opportunity TODAY
To live my life how I intend my life to be
In balance and with consistency

I’ve become passionate about the challenge of personal leadership.  How do I create authentic leadership from within myself and how can I empower you, my clients, and my readers to do the same?  I believe that we co-create our world in each moment of every day.  Join with me on this journey of exploration, personal growth, creation and expansion.  So that we can co-create a world that truly works, that empowers life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that gives equal opportunity to each and every one of us.